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O'Rawe - election of first Sinn Féin Mayor of Armagh a triumph for fair play

24 June, 2003

For Immediate Release: Monday 23rd June 2003

Sinn Féin has welcomed the election of Councillor Pat O'Rawe as the first Sinn Féin Mayor of Armagh City & District Council as a positive step and a triumph for fair play and equality.

Following her election the new Mayor, Pat O'Rawe said;

"Today's election is indeed historic. I do not view it as a personal victory but rather as a triumph for equality and fair play. Sinn Féin is the third largest party on the council and therefore is entitled to this position. We have held and do hold similar positions on councils throughout the north and have shown that as a party we are both competent and capable. There area those who will view today's election in a negative manner but I would say to them they are wrong. The situation on other councils has proved that when a Republican Mayor is elected that the sky does not fall in. Sinn Féin Mayors and Chairpersons have shown a willingness and capability to get on with the job. I will endeavour to maintain and improve on that record for Armagh City & District Council. I do not intend to be simply a Sinn Féin Mayor. I will be Mayor for the whole council conscious of the fact that not everyone agrees with my party politics.

"Those who view my election in a negative manner will probably do so from a perspective of party politics. I would say to them that they are wrong. Today's election is a triumph not for Sinn Féin as a political party but for the continuing task of making councils and other forums properly representative of the electorate who elect them. The voters who voted for myself and my council colleagues are just as entitled to see elected representatives hold the position of Mayor as the voters who elect representatives from the other political parties. The issue here is one of equality and will be viewed by many as such.

"In the coming year I will endeavour to represent this council to the best of my ability. As I have said I am conscious of the political divisions within our community but I will try to overcome these. I cannot meet people half-way who are not willing to come half-way but nevertheless I am looking forward to the challenges of the coming year. Although we still have some way to go I recognise that the council has made positive steps towards full and proper representation. An example here is the positions on the various committees. Today's election is an extension to that and I hope will pave the way for further improvements."ENDS

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