Northern Ireland assembly gets second openly gay MLA

New Alliance MLA Andrew Muir

A second out LGBT+ politician has been named to the Northern Ireland assembly.

Alliance politician Andrew Muir, who previously served as Mayor of North Down, was selected by the party to fill the vacant seat as MLA for North Down on Wednesday.

He replaces Stephen Farry, who left the assembly after being elected to the UK Parliament as MP for North Down in December’s snap election.

Andrew Muir ‘deeply honoured’ to be named to Northern Ireland assembly

Muir said: “I am deeply honoured to be selected by my Alliance friends and colleagues to succeed Stephen Farry as MLA for North Down.”

He added: “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.”

The assembly has not been able to sit since January 2017, when power-sharing in the region collapsed.

Alliance MLA Andrew Muir will be the second out Northern Ireland assembly member

Alliance MLA Andrew Muir

Muir  added: “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.”

Alliance has led the way on LGBT+ representation

Muir is only the second out LGBT+ lawmaker in the history of the Northern Ireland assembly.

The first is John Blair, also of Alliance, who was appointed to the assembly in 2018.

Speaking to PinkNews in 2018, 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.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long said: “Alliance has a history because of our history of liberal and progressive policies of attracting high numbers of LGBT activists and members.

“That’s something we welcome because it allows people to have a voice.”

Same-sex weddings are expected to start in Northern Ireland in February, after the UK Parliament passed a bill to extend marriage equality to the region in the absence of the devolved assembly.

However, the region still lags behind much of the UK on LGBT+ issues.