The third Annual Meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council took place on Thursday 1 June 2017 when Councillor Roísín Mulgrew (Sinn Féin) was appointed as Chairperson.
Upon taking the chain of the First Citizen, Councillor Mulgrew said: “It is my honour tonight to be elected to serve as the new Chairperson of Newry Mourne and Down District Council. This occasion is made even more special by the support of my family and fellow party members with whom I have campaigned for many years and without their hard work and dedication I would not be here today. This position is an opportunity to pursue and achieve real change for the people in our area.”
Speaking about the year ahead Councillor Mulgrew said: “In my year as Chair of this Council I will place the uncertain future of Daisy Hill Hospital and the looming threat of service closure at the forefront of local politics, empowering and supporting the inspiring grassroots activity of recent years. To achieve our objectives we must come together into one cohesive campaign.
“I will use my year in office to bring together the wealth of ideas, the energy and the efforts of community groups, the staff of Daisy Hill, our trade unions and local businesses into one unified campaign. I will ensure that as a community we speak effectively with a single voice to save Daisy Hill and all of our health care facilities throughout the district which are under threat; they are at the heart of our community.
“Brexit will define social, economic and political life in this region for a generation. Our border communities in particular face disruption to their way of life and their livelihoods. All of us have a duty to stop this from happening and we must come together to stand against Brexit.
“I believe the true first citizens of Newry Mourne and Down are the volunteers and community workers who work tirelessly to bind and grow our community cohesion. They organise festivals and celebrations to promote our shared culture. They fundraise and care for sick and disadvantaged, they fight to save our local health care services and they run our community youth and sports clubs. My charities this year will reflect this crucial and unceasing effort and the vast network of community activists throughout the district.”
Councillor Mulgrew added: “I look forward to tackling these challenges supported by a talented and dedicated Deputy Chair, Councillor William Clarke and indeed the whole Council team.”
Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Clarke congratulated Councillor Mulgrew on becoming the district’s First Citizen, saying: “I will do all I can in my role as Deputy Chairperson, to support Councillor Mulgrew. My congratulations also go to Councillor Fitzpatrick on the high energy role she undertook as Chairperson and to Councillor Craig for his role as Deputy Chair.”
Councillor Clarke continued by setting out his priorities for the year in working with Councillor Mulgrew. He said: “I will endeavour to continue the healing process in communities and work with new citizens and ethnic groups within the district. I will work with disadvantaged groups who are switched off from the political process to give them a voice so that resources can be directed to those that need them most.
“My sincere thanks go to my party for nominating me for this role, I am honoured and humbled to be Deputy Chair of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.”
Commenting on her year, outgoing Chairperson, Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick said: “First and foremost I would like to thank the public for embracing me throughout my year. I attended many events across the entire district, however one of the most significant was the launch of the Council’s new tourism strategy in March. Our objective is to create and deliver an epic experience for local people and visitors to Newry, Mourne and Down; I can say that I truly had an amazing epic experience this year.
“I would like to thank Councillor Garth Craig for his work as Deputy Chair and for his support throughout the year, and to the Chief Executive, Mr Liam Hannaway and Directors for their guidance and counsel. I cannot end my year in office without mentioning the Democratic Services team without whom I couldn’t have conducted my business. They worked tirelessly to ensure that I was able to attend so many events across the entire district as well as organising my recent Chairperson’s Charity Ball, which was a truly successful event. I am delighted with the funds which we raised for my chosen charities and the donations will be presented in due course.”
She added: “I have had an amazing year, it was tremendous, enjoyable, heart rendering, thoughtful and at times tough. I met so many people – individuals, community groups, voluntary groups and business people and I thank each and every one for opening their arms to me, I embraced everyone on behalf of the people of the district.”
Councillor Fitzpatrick wished the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson all the very best in their roles and thanked her Party for putting her forward and trusting her with the position of First Citizen.
Outgoing Deputy Chairperson, Councillor Garth Craig also commented and said: “It has been an honour to serve the district as the Deputy Chairperson. I have attended a number of memorable events for really worthwhile causes and it would be very difficult to single out one. Thanks to Gillian for her tireless work and the manner in which she conducted her duties, they were carried out in exemplary fashion. My thanks also go to Chief Executive, Liam Hannaway and his team for their support; his door is an ever open door, which is recognised and appreciated by all Councillors.
“I am very grateful to the Democratic Services team who have helped and supported me throughout the year. Finally I must thank my Party Colleagues and indeed all the Members who showed me respect during my time as Deputy Chair, I do trust that in return I showed respect to everyone.”
Other business conducted at the meeting included the appointment of Chairs and Deputy Chairs of the Council’s standing committees:
Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism Committee
Chairperson – Cllr Pete Byrne
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr David Hyland.
Active and Healthy Communities Committee
Chairperson – Cllr William Walker
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr David Taylor.
Regulatory and Technical Services Committee
Chairperson – Cllr John Trainor
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr Valerie Harte.
Strategy, Policy and Resources Committee
Chairperson – Cllr Terry Hearty
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr Andrew McMurray.
Chairperson – Cllr Garth Craig
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr Kate Loughran.