The High Sheriff of Belfast is a title and position which was created in 1900 under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, with Sir James Henderson the first holder. Like other high sheriff positions, it is largely a ceremonial post today. The current High Sheriff is Alderman Tom Haire who took office in January 2017
The High Sheriff is theoretically the judicial representative of the sovereign (the Queen) in the city, while the Lord Lieutenant of Belfast is the Sovereign's personal representative. Today, the office is now largely symbolic with few formal duties other than deputising for the Lord Mayor of Belfast at official events.
Appointments are made on annual basis by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who asks the outgoing High Sheriff and Belfast City Council to suggest the names of three people who are deemed suitable to hold the position. In recent years the Council has suggested only one candidate, who is normally a member of the Council. The High Sheriff's term of office runs from January to December, which is distinct from the term of office for the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor who take up office in May or June each year.
Prior to 1900 sheriffs were elected by the city council.