'Ballycolman girl' Michaela Boyle outlines priorities as new mayor of Derry and Strabane
'Ballycolman girl' Michaela Boyle pledged promoting jobs and investment in the North West, positive mental health and women's rights would be her key priorities after she received the chains of office as the new mayor of Derry City and Strabane on Monday night.
The new Mayor, who will be supported in her role by SDLP councillor Cara Hunter who takes up the position of Deputy Mayor, said: "It is an honour to be nominated and elected as the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane district.
"It is with even greater personal pride as a Ballycolman girl that I am the first person from Strabane town to take on this role," said the Sinn Féin councillor and new 'first citizen.'
She said her first priority would be promoting infrastructure, investment and jobs.
"We need to build on the foundations of existing collaborations in health, education and infrastructure. One of the key projects, which is an essential lifeline for addressing the infrastructural deficit west of the Bann and for reinforcing connections is the A5 road project.
"We need to ensure that key projects such as the A5, the expansion of the Magee campus, the medical school, the Riverine Project, the A6 road and others are delivered in order to open up the entire north-west region and bring the benefits on an all-island basis," said the Mayor.
She went on to reveal that her two mayoral charities would be the Koram Centre in Strabane, which provides counselling services, and Foyle Women's Aid, which supports survivors of domestic abuse.
These align with her two other priorities promoting positive mental health" and "empowering women."
“Mental health affects everyone in society, particularly here in the north, mental illness is the largest single cause of ill health. It’s time to end the stigma and silence.
"I have decided this year to split the Mayors charity 50/50 with one half of it going to the Koram Centre in Strabane which offers invaluable Counselling, psychotherapy and psychosocial support to those suffering," said the former West Tyrone MLA.
Mayor Boyle added that being a strong voice for women and working to empower females was also one of her key objectives during her Mayoral term of office.
She commented: “This Council has already carried out some excellent work relating to women’s rights & should be proud to have been the first council in the north to tackle period poverty.
"No group in our society will be untouched by Brexit but women from border communities like ours will be among those most disproportionately impacted in terms of gender equality, employment legislation, children's rights, family disputes, domestic violence, access to healthcare and the possible implications of a Brexit border.
“Everyone in a leadership role, in politics, business, academia and civic society, has a responsibility to address gender equality and reduce barriers to participation by women. As Mayor I can give my full guarantee that I will push this at every given opportunity.”