Bristol’s next Lord Mayor will be Green Party Councillor Paula O’Rourke, the Clifton Councillor who pioneered Bristol’s first Citizens’ Assembly. The role, which rotates between the four main parties on Bristol Council, will be appointed at the Council’s Annual Meeting next Tuesday 24 May.
Paula was the leader of Bristol’s 24-strong Green Councillor Group following the election result in May last year. Her motion to Full Council in January 2020 led to Bristol launching the city’s first ever Citizens’ Assembly the following year. A randomly selected and representative panel of citizens worked with experts to develop recommendations for the Council to tackle the city’s priorities on issues like climate change, housing, transport and health.
Paula is Irish, having emigrated to the UK in the 1980s, and one of the things she has said she would like to explore during her time as Lord Mayor is strengthening the relationship between Bristol and her home city of Dublin. She is also keen to promote citizenship and democracy education during her term.
“It’s a great honour to be our city’s next Lord Mayor. During my youth growing up in tenements and council housing in Ireland, I would have never imagined that I would one day end up as an elected Councillor in Bristol, much less Lord Mayor! I am grateful for the opportunities that emigration to this country gave me and pleased to have this chance to give something back.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge and privilege of attending the huge range of engagements that come with the role of being ‘First Citizen’ of our city, and meeting people and communities from all over Bristol.
“Bristol has long been linked to my hometown of Dublin, through conquest, trade and politics. King Henry II famously ‘granted’ Dublin to ‘the men of Bristol’ in 1171-72. This year is the 850th anniversary of that charter and one of the things I’d like to explore in my term as Lord Mayor is bringing our two cities closer together through a twinning arrangement.
“Something close to my heart is engagement with democracy, and during my term I would particularly like to focus on promoting citizenship and democracy education in schools and in the wider environment.”