Brian Tierney – Mayoral Address – June 2020
I am truly and deeply honoured to be elected as Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council for the incoming year.
I would like to thank my proposer Cllr Martin Reilly and my seconder Cllr John Boyle and all my colleagues in the SDLP council group for their support.
I would also like to thank my friend and colleague Colum Eastwood MP, who has always supported, encouraged and believed in me even at times when I didn’t. And allSDLP members across Derry and Strabane who have placed their trust in me to carry out this role – especiallyduring such an important year for our City and District.
The role of a public representativecould not be carried out without an enormous amount of support, understanding and sacrifice from our families.
So, I especially want to take this opportunity to thank my wife Cheryl and my children Cian, Shane, Mary-Kate and Ben for their unwavering support which has helped me carry out my role as a public representative to the best of my ability.
I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t be here without them.
My parents, Brian and Mary and 2 sisters Lynne and Fiona who obviously have played a huge role in my life - and my mother and father in law for all their support too.
My uncle John Tierney, he has done a huge amount in helping me become an effective public representative.
He has been my greatest mentor and when needed the one person who I listened to, especially when he tried to make me see things from another perspective.
I would also like to congratulate the newly elected Deputy Mayor Councillor Graham Warke and look forward to working with him in the year ahead.
Graham and I worked closely together within Council’s Bonfire Working Group.
It’s fair to say we hada few differences, but we were able to work together for the betterment of our area and I think that will be a bonus for both of us in building a positive working relationship in the weeks and months ahead.
There is no doubt that the unprecedented emergency of Covid-19 means this will be a very different and very difficult year in the life of this city and district.
I am under no illusion - this is going to be a trying and testing year for our people.
Many families have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and it will leave a lasting scar on them for many years to come.
Tonight, we are all conscious that many of our people have been burdened with the grief of losing loved ones before their time.
We send our sympathy and condolences to them all.
During the last number of months, all of us have been forced to live our lives in a radically different way.
The virus has very suddenly shocked us into a recognition of just how fragile our world is.
However, it is also reminding us what really matters – our health, our community spirit and our solidarity.
Facing the worst pandemic in a century, we can be proud that it has brought out the best in our community.
We have come to value those we rely on most.
Our Doctors, nursesand all health care workers supported by their families who were at the fore of our defence.
All of our frontline workers who made sure we had the supplies we needed and who kept us safe and ensured that the approaite regulations where being adhered to.
As the incoming Mayor I would also like to pay particular thanks to all our staff within Council who we know put their shoulder to the wheel to ensure services have run as smoothly as they could, for as long as they could.
I want to acknowledge our senior leadership team,led by our Chief Executive John Kelpie, who have worked around the clock to protect our services and enabled some semblance of normality.
While recognising the role Council played within the crisis, I would also like to thank our outgoing Mayor Councillor Michaela Boyle for the role she played in leading our City and District through the most changellaging time many of us will have faced in our lifetime.
I know it can’t have been easy and I hope Michaela gets some time now to spend with her family and take a well-earned rest.
Throughout my time as Mayor I intend to put a huge amount of my time into encouraging and fighting for as much investment in this City and District as we can.
This is a critical moment.
As mayor, when it comes to investment in this city, I want to preside over a turning of the tide not another false dawn.
I’ll work day and night to ensure that people in the north west aren’t let down again.
There have been some signs of progress - but we have a long way to go.
I would have preferred that we were further down the road in terms of securing our City Deal, expanding our university, and moving all of these strategic projects to the next stage.
The focus for the British Government, the Executiveand Councilover recent months has understandably being on fighting Covid-19.
That has meant those conversations have been put on hold.
As Mayor, I intend to pick them up again.
Pausing these projects because of a pandemic simply can’t mean they are permanently postponed.
None of us can allow that to happen.
I intend to bang every door that I can in Belfast, Dublin or London to make sure that we have a strong case put forward for investment in Derry and Strabane.
If the opportunity arises I will travel wherever I have to, to ensure that people across the world know that Derry and Strabane is open for business and will welcome visitors to our beautiful Council area.
I will continue the work of previous Mayors, and with our partners in Donegal, to promote the North West Region as an investment area for Governments on both sides of the border.
Bringing about recovery in our city and district and across these islands requires all of us to now work together.
Our people have risen to the challenge of this pandemic –
it’s now our job to rise above past difference and build a better future for everyone who calls this place home.
One of the great privileges of being Mayor is being able to nominate a charity for the year.
I’m delighted to nominate Aurora Counselling Services.
Tackling the mental health crisis inthis city and district must remain a major focus of all we do.
That work has become all the more crucial with the stress and strain the last number of months have inflicted.
Aurora are central in that work – offering awide range of mental health services offered to children, teenagers and adults.
They attend both primary and secondary schools offering play therapy, counselling and for adults they assist withcognitive behavioural therapy.
They currently have around15 staff members in their team who are regularly backed up by a team of volunteers.
They deserve our recognition and support and I’m delighted to nominate them as my chosen charity for the year ahead.
Members - for me personally, this is a huge achievement.
When growing up as a young boy in the Bogside, I never even dared to imagine that I would be addressing you as Mayor.
I fully understand the enormity of the responsibility being place on me tonight.
I want to make you aware that I have not entered into this position lightly.
I have thought deeply and fully considered the contribution that I want to make to council and the future of life within this City and District.
I intend to be a Mayor for each and every citizen across this Council area and will do my best to represent this council area and every citizen within it to the best of my ability.
I intend to be out and about the City and District as much as I can and no area will be left out or indeed favoured over another.
As a local Councillor I have always tried to represent the people of the Ballyarnett DEA in this Chamber on behalf of the SDLP and I again thank them for giving me successive mandates to do so.
Now I intend to represent people in every DEA on behalf of this council to deliver the best possible future we can for our people.
I will work with anyone from any Political Party and none to help advance this council area.
I love this place and I’ll do everything I can to make our people proud.
Over the last number of months, we have all been asked to stay away from those we love in order to protect them.
I hope my year as Mayor can be marked and remembered as the time when we began to bring people back together.
Back together as one community across this City and district.
Back together, to fully enjoy and embrace this place we are privileged to call home.