Deputy Mayor speech
Councillor Jason Barr
I am deeply honoured and humbled to have been nominated as Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane.
I’d like to thank my SDLP colleagues for the nomination and my family and friends for all the help, support and guidance they have given me throughout my political career thus far, particularly during the recent election campaign, which felt like it might never end. Most importantly to my daughter Fraya, my mum and dad Kathleen and Noel, my sisters Donna and Susan and brothers Gareth, Noel and David.
I’d also like to pay tribute to the outgoing Mayor, Councillor Sandra Duffy, on a fantastic year as first citizen and it just shows it’s a small world as we found out we’re related this time last year from both our Donegal roots from Burt and Burnfoot.
Of course to my former colleague and outgoing Deputy Mayor Angela Dobbins, who was ever-present when called upon right across this council area during the last term. My party colleague Angela Dobbins will be missed by all in the SDLP council team, but I know she’ll be there for me this year to share her experience should I need to call on her.
As a proud Strabane man I am determined to use my platform as Deputy Mayor, as I have throughout my time on council, to provide a strong voice for my local community, to highlight the issues impacting local people, but also to celebrate our many achievements and showcase everything we have to offer.
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that people in Strabane feel they don’t get their fair share from this council, and as Deputy Mayor I will fight to change that perception and to make sure that people in the area feel supported and connected to the work of their representatives.
Strabane and the Sperrin DEA is a fantastic town and place to live, we have seen significant improvements throughout the area over the last few years.
But the campaign goes on for better facilities, to finally deliver the life-saving A5 road upgrade, for jobs and investment and support for local communities. It really is an area that has so much potential and you’ll forgive me if I shout about it more than a few times over the course of my term.
That said, I am going to be a Deputy Mayor for everyone right across our council area - Derry, Strabane, Cityside, Waterside, Ballymagorry, Plumbridge, Aughabrack Dunamanagh, Artigarvan, Douglas Bridge, Sion Mills, Clady and Castlederg. I will also aim to work with people from every community and background, including Mayor Patricia Logue and my other council colleagues, to be a Deputy Mayor that everyone can be proud of.
While I am delighted to be Deputy Mayor it would be remiss of me not to mention the struggles that are impacting families in every part of this council and right across the North. People are really struggling with the cost of living crisis, our public services are collapsing with the Health Service falling apart, our education services deprived of funding and community and voluntary groups facing an uncertain future as they carry out vital work that people rely on each and every day. As Deputy Mayor I will work to highlight these issues and to ensure that council helps out where it can throughout the year.
One of the things I’m most looking forward to during my term is getting out and meeting people. Every year this council delivers a fantastic programme of events from Derry’s world-renowned Halloween celebrations to our own Summer Jamm and St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Strabane. I’m also looking forward to attending events and meeting many of the fantastic people who enrich society in the North West from our community groups and sports teams to the charities who so often step up to provide important services locally.
As we embark on this new council term, I’d like to reiterate how much it means to me to be an elected representative for my home community, where I live, work and raise my daughter Fraya. I am also proud to be from the North West of this island, even if we do have our disagreements when Tyrone beats Derry! There is far more that unites people from every part of this council area than divides us, we share the same problems and the same successes and we all want a better future for people here. That’s the spirit I’ll be bringing to the role of Deputy Mayor this year and I’m looking forward to working extremely hard to deliver for the people of Derry and Strabane
For you that know me I’m sure the odd Tik Tok will be recorded through my time.