Alex Maskey

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Alex Maskey

Alex Maskey.jpg
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast West
Assumed office
3 November 2014
Preceded bySue Ramsey
In office
25 June 1998 – 26 November 2003
Preceded byNew Creation
Succeeded byFra McCann
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast South
In office
26 November 2003 – 22 October 2014
Preceded byMonica McWilliams
Succeeded byMáirtín Ó Muilleoir
47th Lord Mayor of Belfast
In office
Preceded byJim Rodgers
Succeeded byMartin Morgan
6th Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Assumed office
11 January 2020
Preceded byRobin Newton
Personal details
Born (1952-01-08) 8 January 1952 (age 68)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political partySpeaker
Other political
Sinn Féin (before 2020)
WebsiteSinn Féin profile

Alex Maskey (born 8 January 1952) is an Irish politician who has been Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly since 2020 and was the first member of Sinn Féin to serve as Lord Mayor of Belfast from 2002 to 2003.[1] He was Sinn Féin's longest sitting councillor and is currently an MLA for Belfast West as well as being a former councillor for the Laganbank electoral area of Belfast.[2]

Early life[edit]

Maskey was educated at St Malachy's College and at the Belfast Institute for Further and Higher Education and then worked in Belfast docks as a labourer and barman.[1][3] He was a successful amateur boxer, having only lost 4 out of 75 fights.[3]

When the Troubles broke out in 1969 he became involved with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and was interned twice in the 1970s.[3]


Maskey stood unsuccessfully in West Belfast in the 1982 Assembly Election.[4] In June 1983, Maskey won a by-election and became the first member of Sinn Féin to be elected to Belfast City Council.[5][6] He was greeted with boos and jeers when he entered the chamber for his first council meeting, and unionist councillors started stamping their feet and screaming when he attempted to deliver his maiden speech in Irish.[6]

Maskey emerged as a key ally of Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams' approach to the strategy.[1] In 1987 he survived being shot at close range by loyalist paramilitaries.[3] He was targeted again by loyalists in 1988, and also a gun attack at his home in 1993 when one his friends was killed.[7][8] In 1996 Maskey was elected to the Northern Ireland Peace Forum for the Belfast West constituency but did not attend the Forum in accordance with Sinn Féin's policy of abstentionism. Two years later he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which on this occasion Sinn Féin did not boycott.[9]

Maskey's growing political profile led him to contest the Belfast South constituency in the 2001 general election as part of Sinn Féin's strategy of building up their vote in one of their weaker constituencies.[10]

In the local elections held on the same day he switched to the Laganbank area of South Belfast and won a seat there.[11]

In 2002 Maskey became the first ever republican to serve as Lord Mayor of Belfast.[3] His first duty in office was to open the annual Presbyterian General Assembly despite being a non-Presbyterian.[12]

Maskey garnered general praise when as part of his duties as Lord Mayor in July 2002 he laid a wreath in memorial of British soldiers who died in the First World War. However he declined to attend the main memorial ceremony, stating that it was "the military commemoration of the Battle of the Somme".[13] In his office he flew the British Union Jack and the Irish tricolour side by side.[14]

In the 2003 Assembly election Maskey stood in South Belfast again and won Sinn Féin's first seat there with a boost in the vote share. He contested the same-named House of Commons seat in the 2005 general election with the vote share down on the Assembly elections, losing to the Social Democratic and Labour Party candidate, Alasdair McDonnell.[10]


On 25 December 2005, Maskey suffered a heart attack while with his family. Several weeks later he appeared on BBC Radio Ulster to talk about his health.[15]

Later years[edit]

In 2006 he participated in the negotiations resulting in the Basque nationalist organisation ETA truce announced on 22 March.[16] On 23 April 2007 he was announced as one of three Sinn Féin members who would sit on the re-vamped Northern Ireland Policing Board.[citation needed]

Maskey resigned from Belfast City Council in October 2010, as part of Sinn Féin's policy of abolishing double jobbing.[17]

With the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, Maskey was elected Speaker on 11 January 2020.[18]


  1. ^ a b c "Biographies of Prominent People". Conflict Archive on the Internet. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  2. ^ "Alex Maskey". Belfast City Council. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e "From barman to Belfast's first citizen". BBC News. 5 June 2002. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  4. ^ Nicholas Whyte (25 March 2003). "Northern Ireland Assembly Elections 1982". ARK. Archived from the original on 13 February 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  5. ^ Nicholas Whyte (6 June 2002). "Maskey elected Lord Mayor of Belfast". Irish Times. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b White, Robert (2017). Out of the Ashes: An Oral History of the Provisional Irish Republican Movement. Merrion Press. pp. 201–202. ISBN 9781785370939.
  7. ^ O'Doherty, Malachi (25 October 2008). "Payout for an attack that never was". Retrieved 19 August 2017 – via The Guardian.
  8. ^ "Security services tried to kill me, says Belfast mayor". 15 June 2002. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  9. ^ Nicholas Whyte (3 June 1998). "West Belfast". ARK. Archived from the original on 4 April 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  10. ^ a b Nicholas Whyte (3 June 1998). "South Belfast". ARK. Archived from the original on 4 April 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  11. ^ "Alex Maskey". Sinn Féin. Archived from the original on 4 November 2005. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  12. ^ "Presbyterians welcome Lord Mayor Alex Maskey". BBC News. 10 June 2002. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  13. ^ "Maskey marks Somme with wreath". BBC News. 1 July 2002. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  14. ^ "Tricolour raised in City Hall". BBC. 4 September 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  15. ^ "Ex Belfast mayor discharged after heart attack". TCM Archives. 30 December 2005. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  16. ^ "Sinn Féin 'involved in ETA move'". BBC News. 24 March 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
  17. ^ "Alex Maskey Belfast's first republican mayor quits council seat", Belfast Telegraph, 13 October 2010.
  18. ^ McDonald, Henry (11 January 2020). "Northern Ireland assembly reopens three years after collapse". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 January 2020.

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by
Jim Rodgers
Lord Mayor of Belfast
Succeeded by
Martin Morgan
Northern Ireland Forum
New forum Member for West Belfast
Forum dissolved
Northern Ireland Assembly
New assembly MLA for Belfast West
Succeeded by
Fra McCann
Preceded by
Monica McWilliams
MLA for Belfast South
Succeeded by
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
Preceded by
Sue Ramsey
MLA for Belfast West