Derry’s newly-elected Mayor, Sinn Féin’s Kevin Campbell, has pledged to “work tirelessly” for everyone in Derry - irrespective of creed, colour, culture, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
At Derry City Council’s annual general meeting last night, Councillor Campbell was elected to succeed the DUP’s Maurice Devenney as First Citizen.
After receiving the chain of office, the city’s new Mayor vowed to be a “Champion for City of Culture 2013.”
In his acceptance speech, he said his “door will be open” to “each and every citizen” of Derry.
“Derry is our city, this is our time,” he said. “We must seize this opportunity to deliver for all of our citizens.”
Describing himself as a “proud Derry man and a proud Creggan man”, the new Mayor said he recognised that the city faced many challenges that needed to be addressed.
“Poverty, unemployment, lack of hope and ambition, alcohol and drug abuse and a growing problem where more of our young people are taking their own lives - these are issues that cannot be ignored.
“I will build on the hard work of previous mayors including the four Sinn Féin mayors who have worked hard to promote a positive image for the city and improve economic conditions. I will help position Derry as a contender for economic investment by promoting this city nationally and internationally.
“I will work with residents, communities, civic leaders, business leaders and the local media to promote all that is good about our city.
“I will work with this city’s friends in the Executive and the Assembly to secure the necessary funding to make the One Plan a reality.
“Our city has already seen the benefits of working together in the financial support given to the airport, regeneration of the former military sites, new schools, development of Altnagelvin hospital and infrastructural improvements.”
Turning to City of Culture year, Mayor Campbell said 2013 presented everyone with an “enormous opportunity.”
He added: “Derry is a unique city – no other city on this island encapsulates the culture, history and experiences of the people on this island like Derry. Gaelic monasticism, plantation, partition, civil rights and the peace process. Derry has been at the heart and helped shape of all of these experiences. No city on this island can compete with the history and culture of Derry and we must seize 2013 to make this known to the world.
“City of culture must leave a legacy of jobs and prosperity at its core. I have already met with the Culture Company and agreed with them that I will use my office as a Champion for City of Culture 2013.”
Colr. Campbell said he wanted to use his year as Mayor to “recognise diversity”.
“As a republican, I will cherish all of the people of this city equally. I want to reach out and create a process of purposeful dialogue and understanding that takes us forward as one city. Part of that understanding must be in allowing different sections of our community to reflect their culture and traditions without imposing them on others.
“I will explore ways of how we can reach out to the many traditions in a way that strengthens our entire city. We all know that if you take one piece of our cultural mosaic away then Derry loses what makes us uniquely Derry.”
The Mayor also pledged to explore ways to promote and celebrate the positive contribution young people make to the life of the city.
“Too often young people get a bad press but let me offer a different view ‘Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh siad’ which means praise the young and they will blossom.”
Mayor Campbell said he also planned to use the next twelve months to promote the use of the Irish language and to highlight the “valuable work and contribution” the community sector makes “in building strong and vibrant communities.”