Sinn Féin make History in Omagh
Published: 6 June, 2013
Sinn Féin made history on Omagh Distirct Council on Thursday night when it elected two female councillors to the top two posts on the Council. The party unveiled Mid Tyrone councillor Anne Marie Fitzgerald as the Chairperson whilst Omagh Town representative Sorcha McAnespie will take the reins as Vice Chair.
It was the first time that two females have held the top posts in any of the 26 local councils across the north of Ireland. It is only the second time in the whole of Ireland that two females have held the reins. In 2012 Donegal County Council had Sinn Féin councillors, Cora Harvey and Marie Therese Gallagher as Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
Speaking upon her election to the position of Chairperson on Thursday night Councillor Fitzgerald said:
'I wish to thank the Sinn Féin council Group for the nomination to serve as chairperson, My family for their support, particularly my husband Bill and daughters Aoife and Clodadh, the staff and officers of Omagh District council for their previous support and who will no doubt assist me greatly in the coming months, the people of the Mid Tyrone DEA who put their trust in me and elected me to Omagh District Council to represent them.Indeed it is now a privilege to be asked to serve as first citizen of the Omagh District Council area,
She also paid tribute to her late father Mickey, whom she replaced on the council following his death in 2007 saying:
'I want to also tonight remember my late Father, Mickey, whom I replaced on the council after his untimely death in 2007 and who previously served as chairperson in 2005/06.
Moving on to look at her priorities in her time as Chair councillor Fitzgerald stated:
'I will Use my year to promote Omagh district and its environs at every possible opportunity. A number of issues of importance which i will be looking to advance include the speedy resolution of outstanding issues around the A5 Dual carriageway and ensuring the project gets back on track as quickly as possibly, the advancement of the Lisanelly Educational Campus in Omagh, economic development throughout the district including a number of projects which have been in the pipeline for a number of years in the Omagh Town area. Closer to home I would like the see the case for a new build for the Dean Maguirc College advanced. Additionally I will be working to ensure the same for Carrickmore Primary School. With the huge changes regarding the Welfare reform bill i want to use my role to ensure that local people are treated equally to their benefits and entitlements. Indeed our party have indicated at an Assembly level that they would be prepared to block any introduction of a so-called bedroom tax in the north of Ireland. Finally i would like to see the case of the enhanced hospital in Omagh being advanced in my time as chair.
Sorcha McAnespy who was elected as vice chair said she would also like to see a number of issues close to her being advanced in her term as vice chair:
'I would like to see the retention of Mental Health Provision in Omagh. I will also be watching with interest the developments around the enhanced hospital in Omagh which is being progressed at present. Locally I want to assist many groups within the community and voluntary sector. One small measure we as a council do this is through our grants schemes. But groups like the Tara Centre and many others who may be forced to close as a result of lack of funding are deserving groups. Many such groups carry out a very important role within our communities and their efforts should be supported.