Barry McElduff is the new chairman of the Fermanagh and Omagh Council

Sinn Fein councilor Barry McElduff is the new chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, describing it as “a great honor to be appointed and to take on this role”.

We paid tribute to outgoing President, Errol Thompson of the DUP, for the borough-wide work done during his year in office.

“Errol was extremely committed,” Mr. McElduff said.

“He’s a pound, giving everything Omagh man and he’s done his job very, very well.

“It’s no surprise that we disagree on the constitutional issue, but that’s the trick of local government. We try to get along and we succeed.

Mr McElduff’s new role marks something of a comeback after reports last year that Sinn Fein had rejected his candidacy as an Assembly candidate for West Tyrone.

The former MP quit his Westminster seat in 2018 after making a social media video of himself holding a loaf of Kingsmill bread to his head on the anniversary of the massacre of 10 protesting workers by the ‘IRA at Kingsmill, Co Armagh, in 1976.

He apologized for the hurt but said he didn’t know it was the anniversary of the atrocity.

Mr McElduff thanked the people of Omagh for electing him in 2019 and his 14 Sinn Fein colleagues to the council.

He paid tribute to the late SF adviser Sean Donnelly “who was highly regarded by everyone in the chamber and among the officers. Losing Sean was a big thing for his family, his community and this council.”

He also mentioned fellow party member Siobhan Currie, who recently announced her decision to step down.

He described her as “an excellent advisor with a serious skill base that has enriched us all”.

Mr McElduff thanked his family, friends and close advisers who encouraged him to take on the role of chairman, and made special mention of his deceased parents, with the anniversary of his father’s death falling on June 2. .

His chosen charity for the year will be St Vincent de Paul and he said its theme “can be summed up in one word – well-being”.

“As a council, we have a huge role in promoting wellbeing and that’s paramount to all of our people,” he said.

“For me, politics is above all about people. It means celebrating our peoples’ strengths, excellence, personal health and the overall services provided by government.

Mr McElduff spoke of the pressures of waiting lists, mental health arrangements, access to GP services which “are extremely difficult at the moment”.

“We need to push for better services locally. It also applies to how we take care of ourselves, our minds and how we support each other,” he said.

“It is also the role of the municipality in the offer of cultural, sporting and leisure activities. Making sure people are adequately housed and how we can all enjoy the great outdoors, which includes both cities and rural areas which are extremely important.

“We have 47% of our population in rural areas deep in the countryside, beyond towns, villages and officially recognized settlements. We have to remember that. »

Mr McElduff added that he “will push for the urgent restoration of the Assembly so that the worst impacts of this crisis can be mitigated”.

He thanked everyone in the room adding that he looked forward to working with them over the coming year.

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