Derry teenager runs for local council

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Derry schoolboy Dermott Henderson is aiming to become the youngest member of Derry City Council.

The 18 year-old upper sixth year pupil at St Columb’s College is standing as an SDLP candidate in the Cityside ward in the forthcoming local government elections, which will be held on May 5th.

He took time out of his school day to hand in his nomination papers to the acting Town Clerk at the Derry City Council officers on Strand Road yesterday morning, hours before the deadline for nominations closed.

Dermott will now face the unusual task of having to juggle studying for his A-Levels while mounting his campaign for elected office.

While his classmates will be completing course work, the Creggan teenager will be canvassing on doorsteps across the cityside ward. The 18 year-old is studying Irish, history, and geography at St Columb’s College and is the secretary of the SDLP Youth group in the city.

He is the youngest candidate to contest the election locally and is likely to be one of the youngest candidates in the North. He was accompanied to hand in his papers by mayor of Derry, Colum Eastwood, who was himself the youngest councillor when he was elected five years ago aged 22 years-old.

Speaking to the ‘Journal,’ the teenager said; “I think it is a great opportunity to be chosen, Not only to represent the SDLP, but hopefully to be elected to council in order to give something back to the community.

“Living in Creggan I know the issues which are affecting people in the area during these difficult economic times,” he said.

A spokesperson for the SDLP said; “A vote for Dermott is a vote for progress and for the next generation of young people in the City.

“He hopes to earn your support on May 5th, and will tirelessly work to represent the Cityside ward young and old, if elected.”

Dermott’s name was added to the candidate list at the last minute following the shock announcement that rural councillor Jim McKeever had withdrawn his name from the ticket.

The reason for Colr. McKeever’s decision has not been made public and he was not available for comment yesterday.

The surprise move led to a reorganisation of the party’s candidates with Hugh Hastings, who had been announced as a candidate for the Cityside ward, now standing in the rural ward.