Cllr Sandra Duffy from Burnfoot is the new mayor of Derry
Derry City and Strabane District Council tonight elected a Donegal woman as its new mayor to represent the city and district for the incoming 2022-23.
Sinn Fein’s councillor Sandra Duffy who originally hails from Burnfoot, accepted the mayoral chain from her predecessor the DUP’s Alderman Graham Warke at the council’s annual meeting held at the Guildhall on Monday evening.
The new mayor, who will be supported in her role by Cllr Angela Dobbins from the SDLP, who takes up the position of deputy mayor, said she was deeply honoured to represent the city and district and vowed to represent everyone.
Elected to the council for the Ballyarnett Ward in 2014 and is the party group leader. Sandra is an ardent campaigner on social issues including ‘period poverty’ and made history in 2018 by ensuring Derry City and Strabane district Council became the first in Ireland to provide free period products in as many sporting grounds and public buildings as possible to combat this ever-growing issue.
Sandra is passionate about tackling homelessness and has been involved in this sector for over 20 years, she now leads and has developed outreach services addressing homelessness among young people and those with complex needs that require an intense service to meet their needs, including issues around addiction and mental health.
Within council, Sandra has taken a lead role in establishing the North West City region as a good place to live, work and socialise, she has chaired the North West Regional development group, which drives economic cooperation within the region and has led a shop local campaign.
She has also taken on the chair of the PCSP and has a history of campaigning on road safety issues.
With strong working relationships within the statutory, community and voluntary sectors, Sandra has been a board member of Advice North West for over ten years and works with the Western Trust in relation to wider health and social services for the city and district.
She is heavily involved in St Joseph’s Amateur Boxing Club, sits on Greater Shantallow Area Partnership Board, the Culmore Community Partnership and has a keen interest in all community groups and infrastructure in the local area.
She said her main commitment during her mayoral year would be to represent all the people of the council area with a special focus on tackling the cost of living crisis and doing all she can to help local communities and families at this difficult time.
Newly elected mayor, Cllr Duffy said she was deeply honoured at being chosen as mayor and promised to represent everyone during her mayoral year. She spoke about her passion for the city and district and the people who live here and vowed to be a mayor for all.
She said she was excited to work with her colleagues at the council to deliver real change for ordinary workers and families across Derry and Strabane.
She vowed to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and invest in our communities and do all she can to support workers and families who are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table.
She said: “As a local council, we must do everything possible to support people. Derry and Strabane has huge potential to grow and thrive, for the city and district to be a great place to live, work and socialise, we have exciting times ahead.
"I will work to continue the transformation of the city, to grow the local economy and boost tourism by supporting our local businesses to create jobs. To ensure that the next generation has a future here.”
The Ballyarnett elected representative said she was very much looking forward to the role as mayor and to meeting and speaking with people right across the city and district over the next year to hear their opinions at first hand, as their views are hugely important.
She confirmed that her chosen charity for the year was First Housing Aid and Support Services and how she was keen to work with the organisation to help raise funds to support the work they do to support families and vulnerable people who find themselves without a home, particularly people battling challenging circumstances through addiction and mental health.
She added that she planned to work with the charity to set up a fund for people who are exiting homelessness and set up a home to help them with the costs of buying fuel, electricity, and furniture.
Extending a special thanks to her family and party colleagues for their ongoing support, Mayor Duffy paid special tribute to her husband Kevin for being a tower of strength to her over the years and for encouraging her to avail of this unique opportunity to become the First Citizen.
Concluding she thanked everyone for their messages of support and said she was looking forward to working alongside her Ballyarnett councillor colleague and deputy mayor Cllr Angela Dobbins in the year ahead.
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