THE Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast and the SDLP Mayor of Lisburn have extended their best wishes for a peaceful New Year to the citizens of West Belfast.

“The festive season is a happy one for many of us and a time when we can spend time with family and loved ones, but there are also those of us who through illness, loss, or problems in life find the season a difficult one to deal with,” said the Lord Mayor of Lisburn, SDLP Dunmurry Cross Councillor Brian Heading.

“As we move into the beginning of 2012 let us be aware of those who are not as fortunate as ourselves and, regardless of our religious or spiritual beliefs, embrace a form of kindness to others. We should appreciate all the good things, all the positive things we have in our lives and be grateful for the small but very important things we cherish.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues on the Council for their support since my election as Mayor, and I would also like to thank the Deputy Mayor, Councillor William Leathem, for all his help and support over the Christmas period as it is an extremely busy time for the Mayor’s office.”

Looking back on 2011, Belfast Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile said the staging of the MTV Europe music awards was a particular highlight for him.

“Everyone across Belfast and beyond was swept up on the positive vibes that surrounded the MTV events here. It was quite a weekend,” said Mayor Ó Donnghaile.

“Now, as we move into 2012, we have the impetus to all pull together to ensure that Belfast’s success story continues. As a city we have proved our worth on a world stage and can look forward to many exciting events in 2012 with optimism and confidence.”

The Short Strand man also spoke about the investment programme that Belfast City Council will be unveiling  early next year in an attempt to stimulate growth.

“I am very well aware that issues such as jobs and incomes are what matter most to our citizens. Our pledge, through this exciting investment, is that we will build on Belfast’s many strengths in order to meet the challenges ahead,” he said.

“Throughout my term in office I have been inspired by seeing so many of our citizens making a positive impact on the lives of local people. Meeting them brings home the true message of this season of goodwill. I hope that all residents of Belfast, as well as visitors to our wonderful city, achieve everything they wish for in the year ahead,” he added.