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Naomi Rachel Long MEP (née Johnston; born 13 December 1971) is a Northern Irish politician who has been leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland since 2016. A Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Belfast East since 2016, she previously held the same seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly from 2003 to 2010 until her election to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2015 as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Westminster constituency of Belfast East. She served as the second elected female Lord Mayor of Belfast from 2009 to 2010. In 2019, she was elected as the Alliance Party candidate for the European Parliament, becoming the first ever Alliance MEP.

Naomi Long

Cropped image of Naomi Long.JPG
Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Assumed office
26 October 2016
DeputyStephen Farry
Preceded byDavid Ford
Member of Parliament
for Belfast East
In office
6 May 2010 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byPeter Robinson
Succeeded byGavin Robinson
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast East
In office
6 May 2016 – 1 July 2019
Preceded byJudith Cochrane
In office
26 November 2003 – 5 July 2010
Preceded byJohn Alderdice
Succeeded byChris Lyttle
54th Lord Mayor of Belfast
In office
1 June 2009 – 1 June 2010
Preceded byTom Hartley
Succeeded byPat Convery
Councillor on Belfast City Council
for Victoria Ward
In office
7 June 2001 – 26 August 2010
Succeeded byLaura McNamee
Member of the European Parliament
for Northern Ireland
Assumed office
2 July 2019[1][2]
Preceded byJim Nicholson
Personal details
Born
Naomi Rachel Johnston

(1971-12-13) 13 December 1971 (age 47)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political partyAlliance
Spouse(s)Michael Long
Alma materQueen's University Belfast

Having served as a local councillor, MLA, MP and MEP, Long is the only active politician in Northern Ireland to have served in every elected position.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Born in East Belfast, she attended Mersey Street Primary and Bloomfield Collegiate School.[3] While at Bloomfield, in 1989, she competed in the ITV quiz-show Blockbusters, as a single competitor; she won the first round and completed a Gold Run, but was beaten in the next game.[citation needed]

She graduated from Queen's University of Belfast with a degree in civil engineering in 1994, worked in a structural engineering consultancy for two years, held a research and training post at Queen's University for three years, and then went back into environmental and hydraulic engineering consultancy for four years.[4][5]

Political careerEdit

She first took political office in 2001 when she was elected to Belfast City Council for the Victoria ward. In 2003 Long was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast East, succeeding her fellow party member John Alderdice. In 2006 she was named deputy leader of her party. In 2007 she more than doubled the party's vote in the constituency, being placed second ahead of the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. The overall UUP vote, however, was 22%. At 18.8%, her vote share was higher than that for Alderdice in 1998.

On 1 June 2009 she was elected as Lord Mayor of Belfast, defeating William Humphrey (Democratic Unionist Party) by 26 votes to 24 in a vote at a council meeting. She became the second woman to hold the post, after Grace Bannister (1981–82).[6]

Member of ParliamentEdit

On 6 May 2010 she defeated Peter Robinson, First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the DUP, to become Member of Parliament (MP) for Belfast East in the House of Commons.[7] She became the first MP elected to Westminster for the Alliance Party (previously, Stratton Mills, a former Ulster Unionist Party MP, had changed parties to Alliance). Long also became the first Liberal-affiliated MP elected to Westminster in Northern Ireland since James Brown Dougherty in Londonderry City in 1914. Despite the close relationship between the Alliance Party and the Liberal Democrats, Long did not sit with the coalition government nor take the coalition whip[8] and was not a member of the Liberal Democrats.[9]

On 10 December 2012, Long received a number of death threats and a petrol bomb was thrown inside an unmarked police car guarding her constituency office. This violence erupted as a reaction by Ulster loyalists to the decision by Alliance Party members of Belfast City Council to vote in favour of restricting the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall to 17 specific days throughout the year.[10]

In 2015, Long lost her seat in the Commons to Gavin Robinson of the DUP, as a result of a five-party unionist pact in the constituency which saw the UUP, UKIP, TUV and PUP all stand aside in favour of Robinson.[11]

Return to the Northern Ireland AssemblyEdit

In January 2016, Long announced that she would return as an Assembly candidate in the 2016 elections having been nominated in place of incumbent Judith Cochrane.[12][13] She was subsequently elected on the first count with 14.7% of first-preference votes. Following her return to the Assembly, Long assumed positions on the Committee for Communities, the All Party Group on Fairtrade, the All Party Group for Housing, and chaired the All Party Group on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.[14]

In August 2016, Long called for Sinn Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to stand aside as Minister of Finance during an investigation of the Stormont Finance Committee's handling of its Nama inquiry, while Ó'Muilleoir was a committee member. This followed allegations that his party had "coached" loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson prior to his appearance before the committee.[15]

In November 2016, Long criticised Sinn Féin and the DUP for delaying the publication of a working group report on abortion, which recommended legislative changes in cases of fatal foetal abnormality,[16] calling on the Executive "to act without further delay to help women who decide to seek a termination in these very difficult circumstances".[17]

Leader of the Alliance PartyEdit

On 26 October 2016, Long was elected Alliance leader unopposed following the resignation of David Ford.[18] In the first manifesto released under her leadership, Long affirmed her commitment to building a "united, open, liberal and progressive" society. Her party's legislative priorities were revealed to include the harmonisation and strengthening of equality and anti-discrimination measures, the introduction of civil marriage equality, development of integrated education and a Northern Ireland framework to tackle climate change.[19]

In the 2017 Assembly election, Long topped the poll in Belfast East and was returned to the Assembly with 36% of first-preference votes. The election was widely viewed as a success for Alliance, with the party increasing its vote share by 2 percentage points and retaining all of its seats in a smaller Assembly. The party subsequently held the balance of power at Stormont.[20][21]

Alliance targeted two seats in South and East Belfast in the 2017 general election. During the campaign, Long reaffirmed her support for a People's Vote, marriage equality, Votes at 16 and greater transparency surrounding political donations. She also pledged to oppose any rollback of the Human Rights Act.[22]

Following the collapse of talks to restore devolution in February 2018, Long reiterated her view that the pay of MLAs should be cut in the absence of a functioning Executive.[23] In March 2018, Alliance launched its 'Next Steps Forward' paper, outlining a number of proposals aimed at breaking the deadlock and Stormont.[24] At the 2019 Alliance Party Conference, she accused Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley of an "appalling dereliction of duty" over the ongoing stalemate, saying that she had made "no concerted effort to end this interminable drift despite it allegedly being her top priority".[25]

In the 2019 local elections, Alliance saw a 65% rise in its representation on councils. Long hailed the "incredible result" as a watershed moment for politics in Northern Ireland.[26]

Long was elected to the European Parliament as a representative for Northern Ireland in May 2019 with 18.5% of first-preference votes, the best ever result for Alliance.[27] She was subsequently replaced in the Assembly by Máire Hendron, a founding member of the party and former deputy lord mayor of Belfast.[28]


Personal lifeEdit

Long is a member of Bloomfield Presbyterian Church. However, following the Church's decision to exclude those in same-sex relationships from being full members she expressed "great concern" and stated that she "didn't know" if she would remain a member herself.[29] She is married to Michael Long, an Alliance councillor on Belfast City Council.[4][5]

In August 2017, Long revealed that she had been suffering from endometriosis and would undergo surgery for the condition.[30]

Electoral historyEdit

UK Parliament elections

Year Constituency Party Votes % Result
2005 Belfast East Alliance Party 3,746 12.2 Not elected
2010 Belfast East Alliance Party 12,839 37.2 Elected
2015 Belfast East Alliance Party 16,978 42.8 Not elected
2017 Belfast East Alliance Party 15,443 36.0 Not elected

Northern Ireland Assembly elections

Year Constituency Party First-preference votes % Result
2003 Belfast East Alliance Party 2,774 9.0 Elected
2007 Belfast East Alliance Party 5,583 18.8 Elected
2016 Belfast East Alliance Party 5,482 14.7 Elected
2017 Belfast East Alliance Party 7,610 18.9 Elected[31]

European Parliament election

Year Constituency Party First-preference votes % Result
2019 Northern Ireland Alliance Party 105,928 18.50 Elected

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Key dates ahead". European Parliament. 20 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Key dates ahead". BBC News. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  3. ^ Graham, Seanín (4 December 2017). "Alliance Party leader Naomi Long lifts lid on illness she hid for 20 years, in hope of helping others". The Irish News. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Biography_Naomi Long". 10 September 2004. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Naomi LONG (The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland)". 11 January 2006. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  6. ^ "The ITV Hub – The home of ITV". U.tv. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Inside Ireland". 31 July 2012. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Alliance must clarify precise relationship with LibDems" by Ian James Parsley, 12 December 2010. Accessed 16 December 2010
  9. ^ 3:34 pm, 9th December 2010 (9 December 2010). "No, I do not regret receiving the...: 9 Dec 2010: House of Commons debates". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  10. ^ McDonald, Henry (10 December 2012). "MP's office attacked in Northern Ireland". The Guardian. London.
  11. ^ "East Belfast". Ark.ac.uk. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Naomi Long returns as East Belfast Alliance Assembly candidate". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  13. ^ McDowell, Iain (15 March 2016). "Standing down from Stormont". BBC News. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Naomi Long Biography". Northern Ireland Assembly.
  15. ^ "Finance minister urged to 'step aside'". BBC News. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  16. ^ Devenport, Mark (28 November 2016). "Report 'recommends abortion law change'". BBC News. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  17. ^ "Abortion law needs changed now, says Long (The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland)". allianceparty.org. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Naomi Long elected as new Leader of Alliance (The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland)". Allianceparty.org. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Manifesto 2017". Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.
  20. ^ correspondent, Henry McDonald Ireland; Grierson, and Jamie (4 March 2017). "Sinn Féin makes major gains in Northern Ireland elections". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  21. ^ Geoghegan, Peter (4 March 2017). "4 takeaways from Northern Ireland's snap election". POLITICO. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  22. ^ Walker, Stephen (31 May 2017). "Alliance targets two seats in election". Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  23. ^ "'Cut £500 MLA pay rise', urges speaker". 13 March 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  24. ^ Devenport, Mark (22 March 2018). "Alliance sets out plan to break deadlock". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  25. ^ Devenport, Mark (2 March 2019). "Bradley accused of 'dereliction of duty'". Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Alliance hails 'breakthrough' NI election". 4 May 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  27. ^ McCormack, Jayne (28 May 2019). "A fast count and a historic Alliance surge". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  28. ^ "Alliance chooses new MLA to replace Long". 20 June 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  29. ^ Walker, Stephen (15 June 2018). "Naomi Long 'angry' at Presbyterian Church". BBC News. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  30. ^ "Alliance leader to undergo surgery". BBC News. 7 August 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  31. ^ "Statement of Persons Nominated". Electoral Office of Northern Ireland.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Naomi Long at Wikimedia Commons

European Parliament
Preceded by
Jim Nicholson
MEP for Northern Ireland
2019 – present
Incumbent
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
John Alderdice
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Belfast East

2003–2010
Succeeded by
Chris Lyttle
Preceded by
Judith Cochrane
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Belfast East

2016–2019
Succeeded by
Máire Hendron
Party political offices
Preceded by
Eileen Bell
Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
2006–2016
Succeeded by
Stephen Farry
Preceded by
David Ford
Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
2016–present
Incumbent
Civic offices
Preceded by
Tom Hartley
Lord Mayor of Belfast
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Pat Convery
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Robinson
Member of Parliament
for Belfast East

20102015
Succeeded by
Gavin Robinson