Donegal Cathaoirleach role the ‘honour of a lifetime’ for Councillor Jack Murray
The new Cathaoirleach of Donegal has described the role as the ‘honour of a lifetime.’
Inishowen-based Sinn Féin councillor Jack Murray was elected as the county’s Cathaoirleach at the Donegal County Council AGM on Wednesday.
Fianna Fail Councillor Martin McDermott, also from Inishowen, was elected as Leas-Cathaoirleach.
The peninsula has been well represented in recent years as Colr. Murray is the third Inishowen Cathaoirleach in a row, following on from Councillor Rena Donaghey and Councillor Nicholas Crossan.
Speaking to the Journal, Colr. Murray described himself as a ‘proud Donegal man’ and thanked his party and fellow councillors for his election.
He outlined how, in the year ahead, mica and 100% redress will be at the top of his agenda.
“Mica is a huge problem right across Donegal and I will use any opportunity I can to lobby for 100% redress.”
He praised the work of campaigners and said he will support them in any way he can.
Colr. Murray said he also hoped to highlight and address the supports needed for businesses in the county, which have been ‘hammered’ by Covid 19.
He said he hoped to engage with businesses and the local Enterprise Office to support them in the months ahead.
Cathaoirleach Murray said that, in Inishowen, he would like to see works on the a new Buncrana Leisure Centre move at a faster pace and wants to ‘get that over the line.’
He also wants to ensure that Swan Park is reopened as soon as possible and said he would also focus on the funding application submitted for development at Buncrana Shore Front and Pier.
“That is hugely important and will be game changer for Buncrana. I will do all I can to make sure that goes forward.”
Tourism and its benefits will also be a focus, particularly on assets such as Grianan of Aileach, which Colr Murray regularly highlights, and Fort Dunree, which was recently awarded millions in funding.
Colr Murray is also keen to work on cross-border issues and said the North West City Region is critical for the development of Donegal.
“We can’t expect Donegal to grow without the partnership of Derry.”
He added how he is ‘looking forward’ to meeting with new Mayor of Derry City and Strabane Graham Warke.
Outgoing Cathaoirleach Councillor Rena Donaghey said there were ‘some real positives for our county, in a year that was so challenging on other fronts.’
Expressing her condolences to the families of those who lost their lives ‘as a consequence of this wretched virus’, Colr Donaghey also gave her thanks to ‘everyone on the front-line who has given so much of their time, energy and resilience to support our community since March last year.’
“I for one, will be advocating for a proper national acknowledgment of the contribution of the so many that stepped up during these times.’
Colr Donaghey said the challenge in Donegal hasn’t been helped by the fact that a ‘different public health regime applies in most of our neighbouring counties.’
“Officials in Dublin and in Belfast can, at times, overlook the fact that for life up here, in particular in north and east Donegal, the border is invisible, and daily life is lived in a very practical way, back and forth across it.’
Colr Donaghey added how of all non-Covid issues this year, the most serious was mica and ‘nothing less than a 100% scheme will give families the justice they deserve.’
Colr Donaghey also thanked the people of Donegal for their support during her term as Cathaoirleach.