The current High Sheriff of Belfast is Councillor Nicola Verner. She was sworn into office on 16 January 2020 and is the 120th High Sheriff of the city and the 13th woman to hold the position.
Councillor Verne is a member of the Democratic Unionist Party and was elected to represent the Court area of west Belfast.
Duties and responsibilities
Unlike the Mayoral year, the post of High Sheriff begins in January and ends the following December.
Historically, the position of High Sheriff is one of the oldest secular offices in Britain, dating back to the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898. In 1900, Alderman Sir James Henderson became the city's first High Sheriff.
Today, appointments to the position are made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, usually upon the recommendation of the council. The role is now largely ceremonial, with the High Sheriff providing support to the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor during their term in office.
- attending civic functions hosted by the Lord Mayor
- undertaking specific functions on behalf of the council
- attending functions in place of the Lord Mayor
- providing general support to the Lord Mayor.
Addressing the High Sheriff
If you are speaking in public and would like to welcome or introduce the High Sheriff, the usual form of address is simply 'High Sheriff'. For example, "and so, I'd like to welcome Councillor Nicola Verner, the High Sheriff of Belfast."
If you are speaking to the High Sheriff in conversation, the correct title remains 'High Sheriff'.
If you would like to write to the High Sheriff, you should address your letter to 'the High Sheriff, Councillor Nicola Verner'. You should also begin your letter with 'Dear High Sheriff'.