'I am proud to be a Maasai woman and a Derry girl': SDLP makes history as Lilian Barr to be next Mayor

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The SDLP has selected Councillor Lilian Barr to serve as the next Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Councillor Barr will make history as the first back Mayor in the North.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said he was proud that Councillor Barr would represent the party in the role.

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Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said: “Since moving to Derry from Kenya, Lilian has embedded herself in the centre of life in our city, getting involved in a range positive initiatives, mostly notably helping others from migrant backgrounds adjust to life in their new home. She has become an important community activist, speaking out on behalf of those who are marginalised and at times, struggle to have their voices heard.

Lilian Barr will be the next Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council.Lilian Barr will be the next Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council.
Lilian Barr will be the next Mayor of Derry City & Strabane District Council.

“We were delighted when Lilian joined the SDLP, sharing our vision of a peaceful and prosperous future for people in our city, region and island based on respect for difference and diversity. She has been a source of constant enthusiasm, energy and positivity and is a valued addition to the SDLP family. It was a proud moment for everyone when Lilian was coopted on to the council in 2021 and her strong vote in last year’s council election shows how highly the local community thinks of her.

“Nominating Lilian as our Mayor is significant not only for our city and party, but for all those who struggle to see themselves represented in public life. It is particularly important in this moment when others are trying to reassert a narrow, nativist politics that we step up and step in to show what our city and our island is really about. Lilian’s story shows that talent and hard work can make a difference and I think it’s fitting that she will make history as the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, a city and region known the world over for standing up against oppression.”

“I cannot imagine what it is like to have to move halfway across the world and make a new life for yourself in a place very different from your home, but there is no doubt that Lilian is a true ‘Derry girl’ and I’m looking forward to working with her throughout her year as Mayor.”

Councillor Barr said: “I cannot express how much the honour of serving as Mayor of Derry and Strabane means to me. The people of this city have taken me into their hearts and everywhere I go I never fail to be amazed at the warmth, kindness and generosity of the people who live here. Having initially come to Derry as a refugee facing an uncertain future, I can now truly say that my family have found their home. I am proud to be a Maasai woman and a Derry girl.

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SDLP Councillor Lilian Barr.SDLP Councillor Lilian Barr.
SDLP Councillor Lilian Barr.

“The significance of my appointment as Mayor is not lost on me, and I will work for every single person in this city regardless of their religion, ethnicity or background. These are the values I have carried with me since getting involved in politics and are reflected in the ethos of my party.

“I’m looking forward to working with my party, my SDLP council colleagues and everyone on the council in my upcoming year as Mayor. I’m incredibly excited to get started and to get out meeting people and visiting the many fantastic organisations throughout our city. I will use this year to celebrate our successes and shine a spotlight on the issues impacting far too many families here. I hope that I will also be able to inspire others and show what’s possible in a great city like ours.”

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