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Sinn Féin nominee Ruairí McHugh co-opted unopposed to Strabane District Council

12 November, 2008

Sinn Féin nominee Ruairí McHugh was co-opted unopposed onto Strabane District Council last night. Cllr Ruairí McHugh now fills the vacancy left on Council resulting from the death of his father, veteran Sinn Fein Councillor Charlie McHugh, last month.

There had been speculation from Unionist sources that they would object to the co-option and force a by-election in the Derg Electoral Area but this did not materialize.

Speaking in the Council Chamber following his co-option Cllr Ruairí Mc Hugh said,

"I would firstly like to thank my Proposor Cllr Kieran McGuire and my Seconder Cllr Gerard Foley and the entire Sinn Fein grouping for their support here tonight.

"I would also like to thank my family, friends and comrades who are in the public gallery here tonight for the tremendous support and encouragement that they have shown to me over recent times.

"First and foremost, I come into this Council as a proud Irish republican determined to advance the ideals of Equality, Fraternity and Unity as espoused by Tone, Emmett and Connolly

"I may be new to this Council Chamber but in many ways I am no stranger to Council issues and business. My father represented all the people of the Derg for 23 years and it would have been impossible not to have learned many of the ropes of the trade from him during this time.

"However, I know that this will be a steep learning curve for me. But I am committed to representing everyone, to the best of my ability in the time ahead-- regardless of colour class or creed.

"We all face common challenges on bread and butter issues, particularly in this climate of severe recession, and one of the most notable positive changes that has taken place in Strabane District Council in recent years has been the ability of councillors to set aside major political differences and work for the benefit of everyone in the District. I welcome the opportunity to now be able to contribute towards this common objective and welcome the opportunity to work with all councillors and council officials towards this worthwhile end.

"Likewise, there has been a major improvement in community relations in Castlederg in recent times. This has not come about by accident-it has come about because representatives from both sides have sat down and talked etc and long may this dialogue continue to flourish so as ensure a better future for everyone in the area and particularly our young people.

"I recognise that I am coming into Council at a time when are entering a transition phase in terms of the amalgamation with Derry City Council. Along with my Sinn Fein Council colleagues in Strabane, I will be determined that the interests of the people of this area are protected and promoted within this new arrangement. As a Councillor for the Derg area, I am particularly determined that the interests of the rural community of the District are pushed to the fore as we move forward." ENDS

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