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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 June 2007, 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK
Mayor decision made by coin flip
Jim Rodgers - pic Harrison Photography
Jim Rodgers said he would do what was best for Belfast
Councillor Jim Rodgers has become Belfast's lord mayor for a second time, thanks to a flip of a coin.

Mr Rodgers had the same number of votes as Ulster Unionist colleague Bob Stoker, and it was the only way for the party to make the decision.

A philosophical Mr Stoker said: "We could have gone to penalty kicks or arm wrestled but we didn't have time."

Sinn Fein's candidate was thought to be in with a chance, and the party hit out at the SDLP for backing the UUP.

Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey said Tierna Cunningham would have got the post if the nationalist SDLP had backed her.

"We have met with the SDLP over many weeks to discuss the mayorality of this council and yet the Ulster Unionists come up 30 minutes before this council meeting and cut a deal," he said.

However, the SDLP's Alban Maginness said republicans had voted against two of their candidates in the past, including outgoing Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy.

"What Sinn Fein are complaining about is not the fact that the SDLP rotates but rather the sequence that the SDLP rotates and they want to dictate that and we are saying that we will make our own minds up about the sequence."

He added that they would seriously consider supporting a Sinn Fein candidate next year. The SDLP's Bernie Kelly was elected deputy mayor after receiving support from the UUP and some backing from the DUP.

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, now an assembly member, was the party's first lord mayor in the history of the city in 2002.

Mr Rodgers, a councillor for the Victoria Ward, was previously the city's civic head in 2001. He succeeds the SDLP's Pat McCarthy in the post.

The first lord mayor of Belfast was Daniel Dixon, who was elected in 1892.

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