Local Council Elections May 2 : Focus on Derg Ward
The Derg area consists of Newtonstewart, Killeter, Sion Mills, Castlederg, Clady, Victoria Bridge and Ardstraw.
It is the southernmost of the seven District Electoral Areas which make up Derry City & Strabane District Council and one of the most rural regions of the council area.
In terms of population, at the 2011 census there were 17,934 people in the Derg Ward and while it is one the largest in terms of area, it has the second smallest population. constituting around 11 per cent of the entire council population.
In terms of work, the biggest employers are wholesale and retail followed by construction, agriculture, manufacturing, health and social work and education sectors.
There are more people aged 65 and over in the Derg Ward than the council average, standing at 15 per cent of the population, while those aged 15 and under account for 21 per cent, slightly below the average for Derry & Strabane Council, but on par with the Northern Ireland average.
Half of those aged 16 and over are living with a partner, while the number of people either married or in a registered civil partnership stood at 5,730 (46 per cent).
Based on the 2011 census figures, more than one in three people aged 16 and over in the Derg area is single, while 400 people were separated, and four per cent divorced. Around six per cent of people were widowed or had lost their partner.
Of the 6,000 households, the number of people living alone in Derg is around 28 per cent, similar to the average for the Derry City & Strabane District area, while 13 per cent of households had five or more people.
Almost two thirds of households in Derg had no dependant children, while only two per cent had four or more dependent children, and around one in 10 households had people raising a family on their own.
Over half of the homes in Derg are detached properties, and 65 per cent are owner occupied.
Historic landmarks across the region include Newtonstewart Castle, Herdsman Mill, the ancient tombs and ruined castle of Castlederg as well as features from the Plantation of Ulster.
Being a largely rural region, access to employment and healthcare, and agricultural and environmental issues are among the chief concerns, as well as rural, town and village infrastructure and access.
The proximity to the border with Donegal means that Brexit is a concern for many local people.
Almost half of residents (43 per cent) described their general health as ‘very good’, with 73 per cent describing their health as either ‘very good’ or ‘good’.
Over a quarter of residents had some degree of health problems or disability, however.
In terms of qualifications, more than 40 per cent of residents in Derg have no qualifications, while 14 per cent had Level 4 or above and 58 per cent were economically active.
The nine candidates standing in the Derg Ward are, in alphabetical order:
*Cara Hunter (SDLP)
*Derek Hussey (UUP)
*Keith Kerrigan (DUP)
*Thomas Kerrigan (DUP)
*Kieran McGuire (Sinn Fein)
*Maolíosa McHugh (Sinn Fein)
*Ruari McHugh (Sinn Fein)
*Anne Murray (Alliance)
*Andy Patton (Independent)