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Hargey elected Sinn Fein’s first female Mayor of Belfast

4 June, 2018 - by Deirdre Hargey


Sinn Fein Councillor Deirdre Hargey has tonight become Ard Mhéara Bhéal Feirste.

Councillor Hargey is the party’s Group Leader at City Hall and chairs the Council’s Women’s Steering Group. 

Speaking during her address Ard Mhéara Hargey said;

“Ireland’s people, north and south are changing Irish society, for all its people.

They are changing it at the ballot box and they are changing it on the streets.

“And in this City Council we are contributing to that change.

“We live in a changing Belfast in a changed Ireland. 

"During my year I will be engaging with every section of our society.

"I have worked with the many and diverse communities which make up our city, I have reached out and will continue to reach out to those in the unionist tradition who have contributed so much to the development of this city.

“I will continue the work in building peace and reconciliation, that work needs to be nurtured, not taken for granted if we are to achieve the progress and prosperity this city deserves.” ENDS/CRÍOCH

Full text of Deirdre Hargey’s acceptance speech at Belfast City Hall on Monday 4 June 2018

A CHANGING BELFAST IN A CHANGED IRELAND

Belfast is Ireland’s second city.

Ireland’s people, north and south are changing Irish society, for all its people.

They are changing it at the ballot box and they are changing it on the streets.

And in this City Council we are contributing to that change.

We live in a changing Belfast in a changed Ireland. 

A few weeks ago the people of the south voted to respect women by removing the 8th Amendment from the Constitution.

In doing so they demonstrated respect and trust for women faced with a difficult choice over their pregnancy.

It was a caring and compassionate response.

A desire to place women’s needs and health at the centre of a just society.  A society that ‘Trusts Women’.

The change that we witnessed a few weeks ago must and will happen here in the north.

In 2015 in the south people were at the ballot box in another referendum when they voted for marriage equality.

On the streets of this city on Saturday, I along with, thousands of people marched for marriage equality for the people of the north.

The change that we witnessed in 2015 in the south must and will happen here in the north.

There is a tidal wave of change sweeping across Ireland.

It is people led

and from all sections of our society

It doesn’t recognise borders, real or imaginary, because it is responding to the needs of people living in a society which needs to change to ensure there is space for all its people, from Belfast to Dublin, Derry to Cork, Limerick to Lisburn, Galway to Newry.

Belfast City Council has, and will continue, to respond to the needs of the people of this city as the needs arise.

This Council is for marriage equality.

I as mayor of this city am for marriage equality.

Had I a vote, two weeks ago, I would have voted to repeal the 8th Amendment.

In my year in office I will provide a platform for women in their drive for equality and respect.

I will provide a platform for the LGBT community seeking their rights, including marriage equality.

I will highlight and defend the rights of Irish Language speakers, the right for that community to speak in Irish and be educated and live through the medium of Irish; from East to West, North to South Belfast where we have thriving Irish language communities.  I applaud your grass root campaign An Dream Dearg and will do all I can to support it.

In my year in office I would like it to be defined in terms of RIGHTS – people’s rights in the broadest sense of that meaning.

A Charter of Rights based on equality: 

for women; 

for Irish Language speakers

for the LGBT community; 

for the rights of all citizens to have access to due process – access to legacy inquests and access to Article 2 independent investigations

rights for travellers, whose way of life is so misunderstood and marginalised from the rest of us as though they are a curiosity and not real people; a part of our community who 2018 are still demonised and discriminated against.

worker’s rights; equal pay for an equal day’s work, a society where zero hour contracts are consigned to the history bin, where the economy works for the people and in the interest of the many not the few, an Inclusion to Growth approach

rights for businesses to flourish and continue to bring prosperity and employment to the people of Belfast; 

class rights in which our working-class communities, many of whom who suffer poverty and deprivation are respected and cherished, where they have an equal voice in the regeneration and development of this city and where they have their right to the city respected and supported.  I was born and bred in such a community, the Market and I am proud of this area and their recent campaigns on their right to the city through Save the Market & Sunshine not Skyscrappers

a right to housing when we see thousands of families in our city homeless and many rough sleepers on the streets.  At a time when this council has set out ambitious plans to grow our population by 66 thousand we must ensure those most in need are catered for and not pushed to the side, public housing needs to be a key strand of our inclusion for growth plan for increasing our population, with particular attention to those who already live in the city but without a home to call their own

rights for our young people to be central in all that we do, to eradicate child poverty, increase participation and support their demand to reduce the voting age to 16

rights for all diverse cultures to find their rightful place alongside that of the unionist and nationalist traditions;

rights for our new nationals, migrant workers and asylum seekers to full inclusion and participation in all aspects of our city and community life and where Racism is not only opposed but challenged

the right for this council to lead by example and promote greater connections between Belfast and Dublin; let us bring Belfast to Dublin and Dublin to Belfast, where we can to improve the quality of people’s lives in both cities;

the right to remain inside the EU as the people of the north voted to in 2016;

In my term as mayor, Britain intends to leave the EU.

As I said the people of the north voted to remain in the EU. That decision should be accepted by the British government and by all parties who opposed it.

Belfast City Council voted to oppose Brexit with good reason.

Brexit is the greatest threat to the prosperity of the Council; of this city; of the people of Ireland.

In my year in office I will place people’s rights at the centre of all that I do.

In that regard I will build on the efforts by other mayors to make Belfast an open and welcoming city to visitors; a City Council that not only aspires to equality but practises it and embeds it at all levels.

We are a city and a society emerging from political conflict.  I was 14 when the ceasefires were called.  It’s now been 20 years since the signing of Good Friday Agreement and I believe that we can build an inclusive and reconciled city that respects our differing narratives on the past, one which confronts sectarianism in all its forms, but one which can build a collective and inclusive future that cherishes all of our children on the basis of Equality and Rights.

Such rights could and should be legalised within a Bill of Rights.

A Charter of People’s Rights for a changed city in a changing Ireland."

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