Longest serving councillor SDLP's Dermot Curran retiring after 50 years

The SDLP's Dermot Curran will not contest the next election
The SDLP's Dermot Curran will not contest the next election

THE longest serving councillor in Northern Ireland politics is retiring after 50 years.

Dermot Curran, who was first elected in 1973, has confirmed he will not contest the next local government election in May. He said he was stepping down on medical advice.

The SDLP stalwart told the Down Recorder that "politics has been my life and it will be sad to say goodbye to my council role, but I need to put myself first and that is what I fully intend to do".

Elected to the former Down Council following the rationalisation of local government, Mr Curran was later elected to Newry, Mourne and Down district council when it was formed in 2014.

He has successfully contested 12 council elections, served two terms as the district's first citizen and has held positions at numerous organisations including the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, the Policing and Community Partnership and and Peace IV Partnership.

Mr Curran has also campaigned heavily for jobs and investment in the area over the past half century.

"It was the late Eddie McGrady who got me involved in politics," he said.

"He encouraged me to throw my hat in the ring for the 1973 election and I was successful in securing a seat. I am proud to have represented people for 50 years and am so grateful for the continued support I have received from across the community.

"It was support that was never taken for granted, but was always greatly appreciated. I was proud to help people in any way I could and to make the district a better place for all."

Mr Curran said it had been a "real privilege to be able to help people and that is what local politics is all about, working to make a difference".

"I want to thanks all those who have voted for me over the years and it is also important that I recognise the support of my wife Karen and my family.

"Their unswerving support has enabled me to help others and it has been a real privilege."