South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has commented on the success of the two SDLP newcomers to the Assembly from South Down and has paid tribute to Séan Rogers, the outgoing MLA.
She said: “Last week’s election to the Northern Ireland Assembly witnessed the election of two new MLA’s for the SDLP in South Down – Colin McGrath and Sinead Bradley. I congratulate both Colin and Sinead on their hard fought campaigns to secure election to the new Assembly. I have no doubt that their resilience, dedication and determination will stand them in good stead in serving and representing the interests of all the people in South Down whether in terms of health, education, jobs and the economy.
“As the South Down MP, I look forward to working with them as part of the SDLP team along with our local Councillors in delivering improvement and development opportunities for all people who reside in South Down.
“I would also pay tribute to Séan Rogers who sadly was not elected to the Assembly. Sean was a hard-working MLA, a person of decency and integrity who put the needs of his constituents first as a legislator and MLA whether in the Education or in the DARD portfolios.
“And the other outgoing SDLP MLA, Karen McKevitt, who stood in Newry and Armagh this time round was also an enthusiastic advocate for many people – particularly those with disabilities. Both will be sadly missed by colleagues and their constituents.
“Over the next couple of weeks negotiations will take place in relation to the Programme for Government. With the advent of the new Government Departments, the SDLP will be taking part in those negotiations and will be seeking to ensure a better deal for our health and educational provision; the shortening of waiting lists; the need to underpin local hospitals and investment in infrastructure/project development, jobs and our local economy in urban and rural areas.
“The needs of our farming and fishing communities need to be catered for as well. The outcome of the Programme for Government negotiations will be measured against the needs of the wider community. For example, parents, teachers and pupils will be seeking to ascertain if the new NI Executive is earnest in reversing the previous Minister’s cuts to the education budget which simply excoriate the very basis of delivering the curriculum for every child in Primary and Secondary schools.
“I look forward to working with my SDLP MLA colleagues in South Down seeking to ensure the best possible outcomes for all our people in this constituency across a range of issues including Health and the Downe and Daisy Hill Hospitals; job creation; tourist development; roads improvements and reducing traffic congestion in our towns and pump-priming incentives to develop the local economy and retail sector” added Ms Ritchie.
Rogers Expresses Disappointment And Thanks The Supporting Voters And His Staff
Former SDLP MLA for South Down Seán Rogers has commented following last week’s Assembly election.
Mr Rogers said: “I wish to thank all of those who worked on my election campaign. I was very fortunate to have such a dedicated team of family and friends around me.
“Obviously I am disappointed not to have re-gained a seat. However, I am very thankful to each and every person who came out and voted for me. I have worked diligently for the people of South Down and know that my office in Newcastle has helped many people over the past number of years, something which I am very proud of. I hope that the party sees the benefit in retaining this office in the seaside town.
“I want to congratulate Sinead Bradley and Colin McGrath on their elections as I know they will serve South Down well.
“I now look forward to spending some quality time with my family… I already have one grandson and two more grand-children on the way, so I doubt I’ll get too much of a rest.”