‘It was a great honour to represent the city’

(0406PG20)
(0406PG20)

Reflecting on my year it has been a great honour to represent this city both at home and abroad.

Over the year I have met with many famous people. In the last month alone I met the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King III and Theresa Murray, President of the Massachusetts Senate to name a few.

However the highlight of my year has been meeting the people of Derry who make this city tick. The people involved in charity work, carers, educationalists and health care professionals to name a few. They are the life blood of the City and they all deserve credit.

My year began with the Clipper festival. This event surpassed all expectations. Hallowe’en saw crowds flood in from far and wide for one of the biggest and most colourful carnivals in Europe.

The St Patrick’s Day parade, with children on colourful floats, wound its way around the city in a sea of green and everyone celebrated our National Saint in style. I have introduced Lá Gaeilge, Irish language day into the St Patrick Day’s festivities allowing the Irish language community to celebrate their culture and this will now be a permanent feature of St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Jazz festival in May kicked off to packed houses with an array of music, dance and colour that was world class. Added to these was the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival, GAA Scor na nÓg, the Foyle Cup, the Pride Festival, Scouts of Ireland gathering and the Ploughing Championships to name a few of the other festivals held within the city.

At 20:13 on the 31st of December we had the biggest and most spectacular fireworks display the city has ever seen to announce the beginning of the City of Culture.

From the Sons and Daughters concert through to the One Big Weekend we have seen top class acts from around the world perform in the city to packed houses including St Patrick’s Primary School in Pennyburn who won the, “BBC Junior School Choir of The Year”.

I would like to acknowledge Michael Hamlyn who paid for the first big concert The Peace One Day concert in Ebrington Square – Maith thu Michael.

One of the biggest honours for me as a Gael was taking ownership of the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann from Cavan in August, what a party that promises to be.

On the economic front I held breakfast meetings with the business, community and voluntary sectors to listen to how we can develop the city.

The one aspect of my year that showed the true personality of this city was the amount of charity work being done. I chose Foyle Search and Rescue as my dedicated charity. I accompanied them on several occasions and I cannot overstate the professionalism and dedication that these volunteers bring to our City.

Finally I would like to wish our religious leaders from the city well. Monsignor Eamon Martin, now coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, the new Presbyterian Moderator Robb Craig and Rev David Latimer celebrating 25 years in the city. These men have shown great leadership in building reconciliation within our city.

This year has been a great honour for my family and me and I would particularly like to pay tribute to my wife Deirdre and daughter Grainne who have gave me great support throughout the year.