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Mid Ulster council selects first SDLP chair

Mid Ulster District Council has selected Martin Kearney as its first SDLP chair
Connla Young

A nationalist-controlled council has selected its first SDLP chair.

Martin Kearney was handed the top job at Mid Ulster District Council's AGM on Monday.

He is the first member of his party to hold the position since the creation of the 'super council'.

Mr Kearney was re-elected to represent the Carntogher district electoral area in this month's local elections.

The retired teacher has held a seat on the council since it came into existence in 2015 and is a past group leader.

He comes from a line of politicians with his grandfather, Teady McErlean from Clady in Co Derry, serving as a Magherafelt Rural District councillor a century ago.

Mr Kearney said he is looking forward to taking up his new role.

“We open a new chapter in the life of the council with the opportunity to build on the achievements of our first term and continue to implement the strategies, plans and policies developed in the last four years, particularly in the implementation of our community plan,” he said.

“As a former teacher, one of my focuses will be on children and young people and supporting efforts to address the plight of our colleges and schools, particularly our primary schools.”

He said he also wants to contribute to reconciliation.

“I am committed to using my life experiences and to working across traditions, with a sense of community spirit and reconciliation guiding my time in office.

“I aim to listen, learn, protect and promote and to work together with all my colleagues for the benefit of the people of Mid Ulster.”

The DUP's Clement Cuthbertson has been selected to serve as Mr Kearney's deputy.

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