Mayor reflects on one month in office and busy times ahead
06 July 2022
One month into her tenure as Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy today took the opportunity to reaffirm some of her priorities for the year ahead, and revealed some of her fundraising plans for her chosen charity First Housing Aid and Support Services.
Cllr Duffy was speaking as she looked back on the highlights of a busy four weeks in office, which have already taken her to locations in every corner of the Derry and Strabane Council area.
To date engagements have included school visits, Mayoral receptions, official openings, and fun days, as well as her first time presiding in the Chair at June’s Full Council meeting. All in all, a whirlwind start to Mayor Duffy’s year in the driving seat at the Guildhall.
As she began her year in office, Mayor Duffy pledged to uphold the work of her predecessor, Alderman Graham Warke, in making the Mayor’s Parlour an open and welcoming space for everyone. And also to reach out to all generations and use her office to proactively lobby for positive change for the people of Derry and Strabane.
“It’s certainly been a busy few weeks, but so far the role has definitely been living up to all my expectations,” she revealed.
“I’ve tried to hit the ground running and I think I’ve made a very positive start in reaching a balance in being a representative for all, and a voice for the people of the City and District. As a wife, a mother, a politician and a community activist I’m used to the challenge of dividing my time between many roles, so that has certainly stood me in good stead so far.
“I’ve a fantastic team around me which helps, and I’ve received the warmest of welcomes from the many schools, community groups and sports clubs who have invited me to events.
“During my time in the Council chamber I’ve been acutely aware of the many challenges that face people living here, particularly as a result of the cost of living crisis. I’m determined to use my position to lobby strongly on behalf of the people of Derry and Strabane to right the many wrongs that have stalled progress and impacted on the quality of life here. I will work closely with my political colleagues across the spectrum to deliver real and lasting change for the ordinary people.
“Through my work with First Housing I’ve seen for myself the deficit of support within our society, particularly when it comes to providing secure homes for families and individuals struggling to make ends meet. Over the next 12 months I will do all I can to raise awareness of this issue, which is so prevalent throughout both Derry and Strabane. I’m currently planning a series of fundraising events to generate much needed funds to assist the service which is a charitable organisation. These include two special Céilí events taking place during the wider Halloween and St Patrick’s Day celebrations, which I’m really excited about, as I know they will be extremely popular amongst the dedicated Céilí dancing circle.
“I’m a big supporter of the role of the local Boxing community and have long been associated with St Joseph’s Amateur Boxing Club, which provides training and support for our local young people. I’ve been in discussions with the Co. Derry Boxing Board regarding a charity boxing event in the autumn, that I know will be widely welcomed. Boxing has always provided a great outlet, particularly in socially deprived areas, where training has provided a lifeline to young people really seeking direction in their lives. I hope to issue more details about these charity events in the coming weeks.”
In June Cllr Duffy co-chaired the quarterly meeting of the Strategic Growth Partnership (SGP) for Derry and Strabane, the network of community and statutory agencies tasked with delivering the blueprint for change for Derry and Strabane, the Strategic Growth Plan. Looking back at the meeting she said: “I am delighted to be co-chair of the SGP and to see the fantastic partnership working that is at the heart of the campaign for progress here.
“For the first time we have a working strategy that since its launch in 2017 is beginning to deliver real and tangible change here. And with the support of the City Deal, the strategic projects and objectives identified within the plan have the potential to be transformational for Derry and Strabane. I’m looking forward to working with all our partners to continue to progress the good work that’s already underway.
“But first and foremost I’m looking ahead now to the summer months and the fantastic programme of events planned for the Foyle Maritime Festival. It’s going to be phenomenal and I am delighted to have the opportunity as Mayor to welcome the Clipper Race fleet back to the city, and the tens of thousands of people who flock to the event. It’s going to be a busy few months ahead.”