Newry Town councillor John McArdle has been installed as the Mayor of Newry and Mourne for the coming year. The SDLP councillor who has sat in the chamber since 2001 was appointed unopposed at the local authority’s AGM on Monday June 11. Mayor McArdle whose background is nursing replaces fellow Newry Town councillor Charlie Casey (SF) as the council’s figurehead. There was competition for the Deputy Mayor Geraldine Donnelly’s replacement with Slieve Gullion councillor Packie McDonald (SF) and Fews Councillor David Taylor (UUP) both receiving nominations. When put to the vote Cllr McDonald prevailed from 22 votes to 5 crucially garnering support of the SDLP grouping and Independents in the chamber. Making his farewell address to the chamber outgoing Mayor Charlie Casey said it had been “an intense and enjoyable year” in which he had been humbled to meet, “all the people doing voluntary work day and daily for great causes.” During his time in office the former mayor attended bout 30 meetings events and functions a week with the opening of St Colman’s sports complex the launch of ongoing public realm works on Hill Street and Monaghan Street, last October’s Jedward Concert at Pairc Esler and the visit of the Olympic Torch to the district last week among the most memorable. In taking on the mantle Mayor McArdle praised his predecessor and outlined his priorities for the year ahead. “Both of you (mayor and deputy mayor) were excellent and I hope to live up to that,” he said. “I believe this office has the power of persuasion and the ability to build concensus.” In doing so the new mayor said that he would “encourage relentless positivity” to seek reconciliation, social justice and to build prosperity in the district. It is likely that during the mayor’s term in office he will turn the first sod on the council’s £9.5m swimming pool project in the autumn, help officially open the new Gaelaras Irish Language in September, help open the new £1.9m Kilbroney Mountain Bike Trail in the Spring and officially ‘reopen’ Hill Street and Monaghan Street following the completion of the ongoing £1.8m public realm scheme in the coming weeks. These works will include the resurfacing of Hill Street from 5pm on Saturday June 16 until midnight on Monday June 18. The new mayor will also be at the helm for the anticipated ‘City Day’ celebrations which will mark the decade since Newry became a city in 2002.
13th June 2012