This chapter explores the context of the debate about the mayor/chair's constitutional position and role in Northern Ireland local government since 1898, while emphasising the most recent period since 1972. It describes the importance of the mayoralty despite local government's functional unimportance in the Province, by exploring how the election of one high-profile republican Mayor to Belfast City Council, a bastion of unionist power and supremacy, offered wider potential for power-sharing arrangements. The chapter discusses the light of the current major review of local government, it what the future offers for mayors/chairs in Northern Ireland. The potency of mayoral symbolism and how this has been used in the wider political process in Northern Ireland goes well beyond the functional importance of local government as a democratic entity. The 1997 local government elections were a turning point in the politics of Belfast City Council, by far the largest local authority in Northern Ireland.