Derry’s longest serving Sinn Fein Councillor, Tony Hassan, has announced that he will be standing down from Derry City & Strabane District Council over the coming weeks.
Colr. Hassan was first elected to Derry City Council in 1997 and has successfully fought every election since, including to the new super council after reorganisation of Local Government created Derry City & Strabane District Council.
Colr. Hassan is among the longest serving councillors on council today, and will be standing down from his role in late February after 21 years in office.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ Councillor Hassan said: “It has been a privilege for me to have served the people of the Greater Shantallow area for over 21 years. But the time has come for my generation of republican representatives to make way for the new generation of Republicans that are coming forward and who will take the political struggle forward,”
Colr. Hassan joined Sinn Fein in 1972,and said when he joined the then Derry City Council in ‘97, his Sinn Fein colleagues Gerry O hEara, Mitchell McLaughlin and Mary Nelis provided invaluable assistance and advice.
He also paid tribute to the immense contribution and leadership of the late Martin McGuinness.
Over the years Colr. Hassan has campaigned tirelessly for more social housing and was a leading voice in calls for the development of the Skeogelands and Skeoge Road, which was dubbed ‘Hassan’s Highway’ by some after the road was opened in 2008 following a campaign stretching back decades.
Colr. Hassan - who has been an elected representative during the tenure of six Town Clerks and Chief Executives - said that his work towards securing social housing for local people, and the development of the Skeoge area were among the highlights of his tenure in public office.
He has also campaigned for better road and community infrastructure over the years, particularly for the Greater Shantallow area. He said: “Being a councillor, you have to like it. If you are in a job you like, it’s half the battle. And I liked what I was doing over the past 21 years, trying to help people, trying to get people houses, trying to get better roads and footpaths.
“As Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing at the council I am particularly proud of my record and that of our party, who led the drive for construction of much needed social housing and investment in community facilities which has delivered much needed homes and public amenities for the people of Derry.
“As the Sinn Fein spokesperson for housing in the city, I hope I have made a difference to the lives of those many people who now occupy the new homes built in recent years.” “But,” he cautioned, “the job is not complete. Many young families in this city are still living in terrible housing conditions and my successor will continue to address this need.”
Colr. Hassan said that he was leaving the Ballyarnett ward in the very capable hands of his fellow Sinn Fein colleagues, Sandra Duffy and Caoimhe McKnight, and while he is retiring from the council, he plans to continue on as a Sinn Fein party activist.
“I will still be working at a constituency level and be available to assist and give advice where possible,” he claimed. “Although I am now stepping down from my role as councillor I will remain a Sinn Féin activist and work with other activists to develop and strengthen our party’s policies to ensure continued delivery of much needed adequate social housing and other public facilities. A co-option process will now take place and I will fully support whoever is selected as my replacement and wish them well.”
Colr. Hassan also paid tribute to his wife Christine, children Ciaran and Aine and wider family circle for the support they have shown him throughout the years.