New Speaker of Hackney

Speaker of Hackney - Cllr Desmond

Cllr Michael Desmond, has become the borough’s new civic representative, after he was elected as Speaker of Hackney for a second time at the Council’s Annual General Meeting last night (Tuesday 27 April). 

Having lived in Hackney for nearly 35 years, Cllr Desmond is fully aware of the challenges facing the borough as a result of rapid social and economic changes and the coronavirus pandemic, and is keen to do his part in addressing these and helping to rebuild a better Hackney for everyone. 

The Hackney Downs Ward councillor’s top priorities for the coming year are fundraising for and promoting the aims of his two chosen charities, St Joseph’s Hospice and Hackney Empire.

St Joseph’s Hospice provides free compassionate and specialist palliative care for local residents. The Hospice is a place where people from across East London’s diverse communities who are living with life-limiting illnesses are treated with respect and dignity, valued as individuals, and provided with the care that they need. The hospice’s staff have been on the forefront of the pandemic, working to administer treatments to people with coronavirus whilst also protecting and supporting end-of-life patients. 

The Hackney Empire is one of the borough’s most iconic and best-loved creative institutions. The 120-year-old theatre has been a cultural home for residents of all walks of life and abilities, and supported disadvantaged young people into the arts through its Creative Futures programme, which supports more than 4,000 young people every year. However, the Hackney Empire has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus regulations, and Cllr Desmond is keen to use his time in office to support this much-loved theatre at this difficult time and to champion the creative arts. 

If coronavirus regulations permit, Cllr Desmond also plans to host receptions for organisations focusing on issues he is passionate about, such as: working with schools to raise awareness of, and help tackle, cyberbullying, and to promote reading; working with local young people to address their concerns and help them channel their energy into positive activities, particularly through sports; promoting Hackney’s proud role as a Rainbow Council and champion of LGBTQ+ rights; tackling knife crime; and promoting inclusivity in sport. These organisations include Anti-Knife UK, which the Speaker has supported for many years; Cybersmile Foundation, which works to tackle online abuse and harassment; and Rainbow Laces, a Stonewall campaign that supports LGBTQ+ sportsmen and women. 

Alongside his work as civic representative, Cllr Desmond holds an annual environmental clean-up event, Clean up Clapton, which he started 10 years ago. Passionate about supporting young people, he also helps to run Society Syndrome, a social affairs think tank which invites young people to have their say on issues that affect them.

Cllr Michael Desmond, Speaker of Hackney
I’m honoured and proud to represent our brilliant, diverse borough as Speaker of Hackney for a second-term. 

As a long-time Hackney resident and representative of the Hackney Downs Ward, I’ve seen firsthand the transformation of our borough throughout the years. Hackney now has some of the best schools, award-winning parks and green spaces, and a world-class night time economy and creative scene. 

Despite this transformation, the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on our local economy, the lives of our residents, and the key workers who have kept our borough going throughout this incredibly difficult and unprecedented time. Throughout my time in office, I will be working with leaders, residents and communities from across the borough to address the inequalities that have been exacerbated and highlighted by the coronavirus regulations, whilst also tackling longer-term issues such as knife crime, online hate crime and cyberbullying and discrimination towards LGBTQ+ people.
Cllr Michael Desmond, Speaker of Hackney

Supporting Cllr Desmond in his duties will be Cllr Humaira Garasia, who was sworn in as the new Deputy Speaker of Hackney at the Annual General Meeting. Cllr Garasia is a tireless campaigner against hate and religious discrimination, and last year she successfully brought in a motion which saw the Council adopt the official definition of Islamophobia and commit to tackling prejudice against Muslims. 

You can donate to the Speaker’s chosen charities here: bit.ly/fundraising-2021

For more information about the new Speaker, or if you would like him to attend an event, call 020 8356 3591; email:speaker@hackney.gov.uk or write to: Speaker of Hackney, c/o the Speaker’s Office, Room 72, Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street, E8 1EA.