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Outgoing Lord Mayor hands ceremonial chains over to Armagh councillor

Mealla Campbell Julie Flaherty

Armagh councillor Mealla Campbell will don the mayoral chains for the next 12 months.

The SDLP councillor takes over from outgoing Lord Mayor Julie Flaherty – a decision confirmed at the Council’s AGM this evening (Monday).

The mum of three said she will pay her children a surprise visit at their school during her first official engagement.

Ulster Unionist councillor Julie Flaherty paid tribute to the former council colleagues, as well as the 14 newly-elected councillors.

During her term, Councillor Flaherty raised over £20,000 for her chosen charity Down Syndromes Association.

“It has been a pleasure, a once in a lifetime experience,” she said.

“I am hugely honoured that you all have supported me in all my fundraising efforts since June.”

The DUP’s Margaret Tinsley will be the Council’s Deputy Lord Mayor.

In Newry, Sinn Féin Councillor Charlie Casey was appointed Chairperson of Newry Mourne & Down Council.

He urged all councillors to unite to protect services under threat in the Council area, particularly those which look after health and welfare of all and in particular the most vulnerable.

The Councillor pledged that as Chairperson he would fight for those life saving and life changing services, champion the cause of equality and take forward the Council commitment of putting communities at the heart of everything it does.

“Newry Mourne & Down Council mission is to lead and serve a District that is prosperous, healthy as well as sustainable from an economic, environmental and social perspective,” said councillor Casey.

“This is what our people expect and what we as elected representatives are required to work to deliver.

“I urge all political representatives to continue to unite in the campaign to save the Stroke Services and Breast Cancer Services that are under threat. Working together with all stakeholders we can achieve this.”

The new Chairperson talked about difficulties faced by all.

He said: “Whilst there are many threats to this district and our communities, most view Brexit as the single greatest threat to this council district in the time ahead.

“I will commit to working hard with our local and European representatives to ensure the will of the people in this district is respected and the ‘backstop’, as the least worse option, is maintained. Nothing less is acceptable to the people of this district.”

Councillor Casey also highlighted the great community compassion, support and care that existed throughout the area.

“Newry Mourne & Down can feel rightly proud of the many Voluntary Groups, Charities, Agencies and individuals who work day in day out to help others within our communities, particularly those most vulnerable.

“They do this quietly, professionally and compassionately, out of the limelight. These groups, charities, people don’t just “talk the talk, they walk the walk.

“As Chairperson Of Newry Mourne & Down Council I can say to them, my door is open, I will help your work in any practical and appropriate way I can.”

Concluding Councillor Casey thanked outgoing Chairperson Mark Murnin and Deputy Chairperson Oksana McMahon for their work in their roles during the past year. He also paid tribute to those outgoing Councillors for their contributions.

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