Support for local business at fore of new Council Chairman’s tenure

June 11, 2018

Following his appointment last Monday as the new Chairperson for Newry Mourne and Down District Council, SDLP councillor Mark Murnin says community planning and support for local businesses will be his focus in the year ahead.

Thanking his family and party members for their support, Mr Murnin from Ballynahinch, addressed the Council meeting, paying tribute to his late grandfather, Eddie Murnin who was election agent for Councillor Dan Rice.

Revealing 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, he said: “Stormont has advised us that we must adopt Community Planning as a bottom up approach. For me this must start with our children.  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.  

 “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.”

 Mr Murnin endorsed the work of outgoing Chairperson Roisin Mulgrew in the promotion of organ donation and pledged to continue this, while adding that he “will make myself available to as many local businesses as possible to offer support and promotion of their products”.

“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 look forward to tackling these challenges supported by a talented and dedicated Deputy Chair, Councillor Oksana McMahon and indeed the whole Council team,” he added.

Elected Deputy Chairperson, Sinn Fein’s Councillor Oksana McMahon thanked her party colleagues for their endorsement and set out her priorities for the year in working with Councillor Murnin.

 “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,” she said.

 “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.”

Outgoing Chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew wished Councillors Murnin and McMahon well in their new roles and reflected on her tenure, describing it as “hugely rewarding and sometimes challenging”.

“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,” she said.

In reference to her fundraising efforts for her three chosen charities, Women’s Aid, Davinia’s Ark and Mental Health Forum, Councillor Mulgrew added, “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.”

 Outgoing Deputy Chairperson, Councillor Willie Clarke congratulated Mrs Mulgrew on her dedication to her role, adding that it had been a “great privilege” and “an extra rewarding experience” to have held the position of vice-chairperson.  

“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,” he said.

 Standing Committee appointments

Chairperson and deputies of the Council’s various committees were also appointed at the  June 4th meeting and are as follows:

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

Planning Committee – Chairperson Cllr Mickey Larkin, Deputy Chairperson Cllr Declan McAteer

Policing and Community Safety Partnership – Chairperson Cllr Robert Burgess.