An openly out gay Alliance councillor will fill the Northern Ireland assembly seat vacated by the newly appointed North Down member of Parliament (MP).
Alliance councillor, Andrew Muir, became Northern Ireland’s first openly gay mayor in 2013. On Wednesday, he was selected by the party to fill the vacant seat as a member of the legislative assembly (MLA) for North Down.
Muir will replace Alliance Party, Stephen Farry, who vacated the assembly after he was elected to the UK Parliament as MP for North Down in December’s snap election. The newly announced MLA said, “I am deeply honoured to be selected by my Alliance friends and colleagues to succeed Stephen Farry as MLA for North Down.”
Following the announcement, Muir said, “I am looking forward to building on my work as a Councillor… [to] provide a strong Alliance voice for all the people of North Down, serving them both in the constituency and at a restored assembly.”
Since January 2017, the assembly has been unable to sit after power sharing collapsed. Due to the absence of Stormont, marriage equality and bodily rights were voted through. The first same-sex weddings are expected in February, 2020.
Muir said, “I am coming into the role at a time when the Assembly is suspended and therefore one of my priorities as an MLA will be to play my role in helping restore Stormont, so it can deliver for all the people of North Down and further afield. That includes supporting the health service and local schools, pushing for infrastructure investment and helping tackle the climate emergency.”
With his new position, Muir is now the second openly LGBT+ politician to sit the Assembly in the history of Northern Ireland. In 2018, John Blair, also of the Alliance Party, was appointed to the role.
Speaking to PinkNews, Blair said, “In my political party, these simply aren’t issues, and all people, whatever their background, are encouraged to develop, run for public office and do whatever they want to do.”
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