‘Our unique community spirit plays key role in getting us through Covid’: new Mayor

Derry’s ‘unique community spirit’ continues to play a key role in helping it get through the Covid-19 crisis, according to the district’s new Mayor.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 4:28 pm
Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Alderman Graham Warke. Picture Martin McKeown. 07.06.21

Alderman Graham Warke, of the DUP, was elected First Citizen of Derry City & Strabane District Council at its virtual annual general meeting on Monday evening.

The father of two, a member of Council since 2015, previously served in the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) before working as a youth worker in the Fountain Estate.

In his acceptance speech, Ald. Warke said he was “truly honoured” to be elected Mayor.

Derry City and Strabane District Council's new Mayor, Alderman Graham Warke and Mayoress, Tracy Anderson with his mum Jeanette Warke and children, Ollie and Katelyn. Picture Martin McKeown. 07.06.21

Turning to the past 15 months and the impact of Covid-19, Mayor Warke said it had been a very challenging time but he was hopeful there was now “light at the end of the tunnel” and that there were “better times ahead.”

He added: “The citizens of Londonderry and the entire district have been going through the greatest challenge ever but we are getting there – we have the vaccination programme in place and, hopefully, things are returning to a new norm. Our unique community spirit and generosity continues to play an important part in getting us through this.

“The Covid19 pandemic has affected our city in the most fundamental ways - it has impacted on our everyday lives and on our interactions with family and friends; our workplaces and our schools, our businesses and our frontline services - all have been affected by it and the challenges it has created.

“And, of course, it has brought great sadness to many who have lost loved ones and my thoughts are with those who are still struggling to come to terms with that loss.”

The new Mayor said the scale of the effort of so many individuals and groups in the face of the crisis had been impressive and “a testament to the true spirit of the people of this council area and its people”.

“It demonstrates our people’s remarkable resilience, and that is something that sets us in good stead as we take the next steps on our recovery journey, together,” he added.

Mayor Warke, who revealed that Foyle Down Syndrome Trust will be his Mayoral charity, said that one of his key priorities would be to bring the City Deal projects to the next stage of delivery - “where we can see real growth, investment and prosperity”.

“I am committed,” he added, “to being a strong voice urging government to progress further with all transport infrastructure investment and to deliver on the Magee expansion. I look forward to seeing the first medical students starting in September and believe the university has the potential to transform this region.”