Naomi Rachel Long MLA (née Johnston; born 13 December 1971) is a politician in Northern Ireland, who has served as Minister of Justice in the Northern Ireland Executive since January 2020 and leader of the Alliance Party since 2016. She has served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Belfast East since 2020 having held the same seat from 2003 to 2010, and between 2016 and 2019. She previously served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from 2009 to 2010, Member of Parliament (MP) for Belfast East between 2010 and 2015, and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Northern Ireland from 2019 to 2020.
|Minister of Justice|
|Assumed office |
11 January 2020
|First Minister||Arlene Foster|
|Preceded by||Claire Sugden|
|Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland|
|Assumed office |
26 October 2016
|Preceded by||David Ford|
|Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly|
for Belfast East
|Assumed office |
9 January 2020
|Preceded by||Máire Hendron|
6 May 2016 – 1 July 2019
|Preceded by||Judith Cochrane|
|Succeeded by||Máire Hendron|
26 November 2003 – 5 July 2010
|Preceded by||John Alderdice|
|Succeeded by||Chris Lyttle|
|Member of the European Parliament |
for Northern Ireland
2 July 2019 – 31 January 2020
|Preceded by||Jim Nicholson|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
|Member of Parliament|
for Belfast East
6 May 2010 – 30 March 2015
|Preceded by||Peter Robinson|
|Succeeded by||Gavin Robinson|
|54th Lord Mayor of Belfast|
1 June 2009 – 1 June 2010
|Preceded by||Tom Hartley|
|Succeeded by||Pat Convery|
|Councillor on Belfast City Council |
for Victoria Ward
7 June 2001 – 26 August 2010
|Preceded by||Danny Dow|
|Succeeded by||Laura McNamee|
Naomi Rachel Johnston
13 December 1971
Belfast, Northern Ireland
|Alma mater||Queen'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, as well as having served as a mayor, party leader, deputy leader, and a minister.
Born in East Belfast, she attended Mersey Street Primary and Bloomfield Collegiate School. 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.
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).
Member of Parliament
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. 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 and was not a member of the Liberal Democrats.
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.
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.
Return to the Northern Ireland Assembly
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. 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.
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.
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, calling on the Executive "to act without further delay to help women who decide to seek a termination in these very difficult circumstances".
Leader of the Alliance Party
On 26 October 2016, Long was elected Alliance leader unopposed following the resignation of David Ford. 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.
In the 2017 Assembly election, Long topped the poll in Belfast East and was returned to the Assembly with 18.9% 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.
Alliance targeted two seats in South and Belfast East 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.
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. In March 2018, Alliance launched its 'Next Steps Forward' paper, outlining a number of proposals aimed at breaking the deadlock and Stormont. 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".
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.
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. She was subsequently replaced in the Assembly by Máire Hendron, a founding member of the party and former deputy lord mayor of Belfast. She then replaced Hendron in the Assembly with effect from 9 January 2020.
Minister of Justice
On 11 January 2020, following the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly after three years of stalemate, Long was elected Minister of Justice in the Northern Ireland Executive. On 28 January, Long announced that she would progress new domestic abuse legislation through the Assembly which would make coercive control a criminal offence in Northern Ireland. In June 2020, Long commissioned a review into the support available for prison officers following concerns about absence rates. That same month, she announced her intention to introduce unexplained wealth orders in Northern Ireland to target paramilitary and criminal finances.
In November 2020, Long said she was seriously reconsidering her position within the Executive following the DUP's deployment of a cross-community vote to prevent an extension of COVID-19 regulations. She told BBC News, "I have asked people to desist from this abuse of power because it will make my position in the executive unsustainable."
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. She is married to Michael Long, an Alliance councillor on Belfast City Council.
In August 2017, Long revealed that she had been suffering from endometriosis and would undergo surgery for the condition.
UK Parliament elections
|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|
|2019||Belfast East||Alliance Party||19,055||44.9||Not elected|
Northern Ireland Assembly elections
|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|
European Parliament election
|2019||Northern Ireland||Alliance Party||105,928||18.50||Elected|
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