Northern Ireland

Alliance: Naomi Long backed by MLAs in bid for leadership

Naomi Long Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption If elected, Ms Long said she would be the first leader younger than Alliance itself

Naomi Long looks certain to be the next Alliance Party leader after securing the backing of all the party's MLAs.

The East Belfast MLA is acting leader following David Ford's resignation last week after 15 years in the job.

Nominations remain open until 17:00 BST on Wednesday. She will be the first woman to lead the party.

Seconding her nomination, ex-Alliance minister Stephen Farry said she was the best communicator in Northern Ireland politics.

Only assembly members are entitled to stand as candidates for the leadership post.

Ms Long said if she was elected, she would to take the opportunity to "refresh, renew and re-energise the party".

"If elected, I will not only be the first woman to lead the party, but it will also mark a generational change, as I will also be the first leader younger than Alliance itself," she said.

"As such, I am conscious that, while the core values of the Alliance Party are still as relevant as ever, we need to be willing to renew our message, refresh our vision and re-energise not just our current members but a public growing increasingly weary of what often passes for politics here.

"I believe Alliance is ready to step up to that challenge."

The contest will be decided at a special party council on 26 October.

In May 2010, Mrs Long became the first Alliance Party MP when she was elected for East Belfast, defeating DUP leader Peter Robinson.

However, she lost the seat in 2015 to the DUP's Gavin Robinson.

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