Mayoral Address – June 2021
I am truly honoured to be elected Mayor for Derry City & Strabane District Council for the incoming year.
I would like to thank my proposer Alderman McClintock and all the DUP group for their support and trust in this very important year for the City and District.
On a personal note I know my late father David is looking down on me tonight and would be very proud. I want to thank my family and friends who are watching me online tonight. I would like to take this opportunity to praise my mother Jeanette on the excellent work she has been doing breaking barriers down for the city and the strong community values she has taught me on helping people. I am so proud to be Dad to my two beautiful children Katelyn and Ollie and I want to thank them for always supporting me and giving me the drive to take on this role, finally but not least a special thanks to my partner Tracy who has been my rock and is always there to support me.
We sit here members tonight with light at the end of the tunnel after a very challenging year but I am very hopeful that we will have better times ahead.
The citizens of Londonderry and the entire district have been going through the greatest challenge ever but we are getting there – we have the vaccination programme in place and hopefully things are returning to a new norm. Our unique community spirit and generosity continues to play an important part in getting us through this.
The Covid19 pandemic has affected our city in the most fundamental ways – it has impacted on our everyday lives and on our interactions with family and friends; our workplaces and our schools, our businesses and our frontline services – all have been affected by it and the challenges it has created.
And of course, it has brought great sadness to the many who have lost loved ones, and my thoughts are with those who are still struggling to come to terms with that loss.
Charities, sports clubs, community groups, churches and neighbours have come together to support those in need and those on the frontline. The scale of that effort has been so impressive and I think a testament to the true spirit of the people of this council area and its people. It demonstrates our people’s remarkable resilience, and that is something that sets us in good stead as we take the next steps on our recovery journey, together,
I would also like to extend my thanks for the outgoing Mayor Cllr Brian Tierney on his successful year. It was a difficult year but you stepped up to the challenge and had a very positive year in unusual circumstances, enjoy the time off with your family. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the newly elected Deputy Mayor Councillor Christopher Jackson and look forward to working with him in the year ahead.
One of the great privileges of being Mayor is being able to nominate a charity for the year. And I am delighted to be in a position to announce that the Foyle Down Syndrome Trust will be my Mayoral charity.
Foyle Down Syndrome Trust is a unique locally based Charity providing user led programmes to children and young people with Down syndrome from birth through to adulthood.
It was set up 25 years ago by parents who thought more could and should be done to support their children.
The core of the organisation is there One to One Education programme which was developed by world famous Down syndrome education specialist Professor Sue Buckley.
Today they offer a wide range of needs led programmes to over 120 people with Down syndrome including One to One Education, Music Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Health and Wellbeing, Outdoor Learning, Mentoring and a new social enterprise printing project called Down Right Crafty. I hope that during my year as mayor I will be able to raise much needed money for the charity as well as help raise their profile and create awareness of the charity and the fantastic work it does.
During my Mayoral year I promise to represent all the people of this Council area – I look forward to visiting all communities and all regions of the district. I hope to visit new places and meet lots of people from across all sections of the community.
Last year the signing of the Heads of Terms for the City Deal project was a hugely significant and important milestone for our entire region and one of my key priorities will be to bring the City deal projects to the next stage of delivery where we can see real growth, investment and prosperity to our region. I am hugely impressed with the number of innovative and aspiring projects that will come from this investment and strongly believe they have the potential to transform this place and set it aside from others and I sincerely look forward to see the roll out of these projects as we move into the delivery phase of this partner led investment.
In terms of regeneration, I look forward during my Mayoral year to see continued investment in play provision and in rural investment right across the Council area. I am committed to being a strong voice urging Government to progress further with all transport infrastructure investment and to deliver on the Magee expansion. I look forward to seeing the first medical students starting in September and believe the university has the potential to transform this region.
Another of my key commitments is to tackle the issue of mental health in our communities and I will be lobbying Government for permanent funding for the Crisis Intervention Centre.
During my Mayoral year I look forward to seeing a return to events and hopefully our world renowned Halloween festival will go ahead in October. This is an important year as the NI Centenary celebrations and I look forward to welcome tourists back to our wonderful historic city for this important historic event and I will be working with our teams in Council to continue to promote and showcase all of our tourism products.
Thanks once again to everyone for their support to date and I look forward to working with you all as we work collectively for a better future for the people of the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.