‘We need our young people to stay in Derry’

SDLP's newest councillor, Colr Shauna Cusack.  (DR4113JB145)
SDLP's newest councillor, Colr Shauna Cusack. (DR4113JB145)

Shauna Cusack is to be co-opted onto Derry City Council by the SDLP to replace outgoing councillor John Tierney, a move she described as “humbling”.

The latest addition to Derry City Council, representing the Northlands ward, Mrs. Cusack stated that her priority will be to create a city where young people can stay, settle and grow.

“I want to be a voice for young people of Derry. I want to push forward the young person’s agenda and help them remain in the city,” she said.

Mrs. Cusack was nominated to the position after a close selection convention on Tuesday night. The current office manager for Mark H. Durkan MLA won the selection by three votes. Speaking to the ‘Journal’ she said: “I am really, really humbled to be selected. I have a mountain to climb following in the footsteps of John Tierney but I am passionate about Derry and I want to see the town grow.

“The city itself is in a constant job interview and we have to be aware of that. We have achieved so much recently that the world’s attention is focused on us for positive reasons. I want to use that to attract investment and create jobs.”

Shauna admits she was convinced to run for office, as “you always talk about what should be done for and in the city. So when I was offered a chance to get into a position to do something I had to take it. The time was right to address the under-representation of women on council and that affects all the parties.”

Shauna, a former humanities student who has studied Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies to MA level, admits she was always interested in politics. “I’ve been an SDLP party supporter all my life, though I only officially joined the party when I came to work in Mark Durkan’s office.”

Having left the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to do so, Shauna will no doubt be calling on her former colleagues soon, as housing issues will be very much to the fore of her workload as a councillor.

However she identifies the key need in the city as providing for young people. Shauna said: “I want to address issues of anti-social behaviour such as graffiti and litter in order that we make Derry a place to invest, visit and importantly stay.

“I constantly see young people with nothing to do, they have nothing to motivate them, no work in the morning. Council need to get a structure and focus in place for these young people. We need to get them the jobs they need - as we need our young people to stay in Derry.”