Councillor Mark Murnin (SDLP) has been elected Chairperson for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council at the Council’s fourth Annual Meeting, held Monday 4 June.
The Ballynahinch businessman thanked his family for their support and gave special mention to his late grandfather, Eddie Murnin who was election agent for Councillor Dan Rice. He also thanked his party members for having the faith and trust in him to carry out this role and announced that his aspirations for the incoming year are centred on Community Planning, in particular linking communities throughout the district through health and wellbeing with particular focus on educating children, and providing more support for local businesses in the absence of local government.
Councillor Murnin said, “Stormont has advised us that we must adopt Community Planning as a bottom up approach. For me this must start with our children, which offer so much for our future. We need to show them the benefits of active lifestyles – eating well, looking after our environment and developing friendships. These are skills that they can pass up the chain, encouraging their own parents to engage in the same habits and ultimately create more productive and balanced citizens, leading to fewer demands on our health services.
Support of Local Communities
“We can’t put all this responsibility on to our children; we also need to promote healthy lifestyles to our adults. With so many of our village plans requesting walking trails and the opening of Rights of Way, I will use my year in office to support our local communities in bringing more walking routes to our towns and our city.”
He continued, “I also plan to follow on from the outgoing Chairperson, Councillor Mulgrew’s great work in promoting organ donation within the district and will be endorsing organ donation in any way I can, particularly by the use of the organ donation logo on all my correspondence and invitations throughout the year.”
In talking about his plans to support local business, Councillor Murnin said, “This will be a year in which we need to provide clarity and certainty to those in our district that trade with the rest of Ireland and Europe. In the absence of government, it is for this Council to continue to ensure that there is no change to the current border arrangements. I will make myself available to as many local businesses as possible to offer support and promotion of their products.”
Councillor Murnin concluded, “I look forward to tackling these challenges supported by a talented and dedicated Deputy Chair, Councillor Oksana McMahon and indeed the whole Council team.”
Speaking at the meeting, Councillor McMahon thanked her party colleagues for putting their trust in her and continued by setting out her priorities for the year in working with Councillor Murnin.
She said, “Being in this position allows me to highlight important issues in education, health, sports and social care as well as jobs and tourism. I am looking forward to using this opportunity to effectively speak on behalf of all people throughout the district, particularly raising their concerns about Brexit and the great uncertainty that will follow, especially among our border communities.
“I would like to commend my colleague, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew, for her outstanding work and great commitment to her chosen charities. It is this example of hard work and dedication that will motivate me in my upcoming year as Vice Chair.”
Hugely Rewarding and Sometimes Challenging Year
Commenting on her year, outgoing Chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said, “It has been a hugely rewarding and sometimes challenging year. I started the year with a Health and Wellbeing theme which I have carried through to the end. I am delighted that we now have our Health Committees in place, which include service users and providers. This model is unique within councils in the North of Ireland and I am proud to have been involved in their set up.”
Talking about her fundraising efforts for her three chosen charities, Women’s Aid, Davinia’s Ark and Mental Health Forum, Councillor Mulgrew said, “I am passionate about these charities and am privileged to have been able to support and promote them. All of the fundraising events throughout the year were attended by hundreds of people and were a great way to promote the work of the charities. They have raised a record breaking £24,500.”
Councillor Mulgrew concluded by thanking all of the Council staff for their help and support and wished the new Chairman, Councillor Murnin and Deputy Chairperson, Councillor Oksana well on their new roles.
Outgoing Deputy Chairperson, Councillor Willie Clarke said, “It has been a great privilege to have been Vice Chair of the Council and an extra rewarding experience. I have had an insight into all aspects of life across our district and witnessed the dedication and passion that people have working in our local arts and culture, voluntary and community, business and education, mental health and environmental sectors. They are to be commended for the work they do.
“I would like to put on record my gratitude to Councillor Mulgrew for her dedication to the role of Chairperson. She has carried out her duties with integrity and down to earth engagement with all communities. My thanks also go to her for all her fundraising efforts, with special mention of the Fun in the Forest event, which raised money for mental health charity, MYMY.
“I must also thank my Party colleagues and indeed all the members who supported me during my time as Deputy Chair and finally, take the opportunity to wish the new Chairman and Deputy Chairperson all the best during the year ahead.”
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 Michael Ruane
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr Pete Byrne
Active and Healthy Communities Committee
Chairperson – Cllr Gareth Sharvin
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr Terry Andrews
Regulatory and Technical Services Committee
Chairperson – Cllr Charlie Casey
Deputy Chairperson – John Rice
Strategy, Policy and Resources Committee
Chairperson – Cllr Michael Savage
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr William Walker
Chairperson – Cllr Mickey Larkin
Deputy Chairperson – Cllr Declan McAteer
Policing and Community Safety Partnership
Chairperson – Cllr Robert Burgess