Christmas Message from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick has praised community spirit and efforts made to strengthen communities in her Christmas Message to the people of the district.
Whilst visiting the Simon Community in Newry and the MACs (Supporting Children and Young People) residence in Downpatrick, Councillor Fitzpatrick said, “I am delighted to have this opportunity to send a message to the people of Newry, Mourne and Down district at this time of year. Throughout 2016, it has been a privilege for me to serve as the Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.
I have attended a number of engagements with community groups, local charities, voluntary organisations and businesses across the entire district. From these engagements, I have been touched by the tremendous amount of work done by them to support the people of Newry, Mourne and Down, and the help given by them to help the young and not so young residents of our district.
They all deserve our support, which I have been happy to give this past year and I would personally like to thank them all for their extraordinary welcomes I received at their events and meetings. I look forward to continuing my work with such individuals and organisations in the coming months of 2017.
As Christmas and New Year approach, I ask that you think about those who are unwell, the elderly, the vulnerable, those who feel lonely and those who have experienced the loss of a loved one this year; I ask you also to remember the difficult times of the refugees who are now living in our district - be a good neighbour to all in this season of goodwill and help in any way you can.
We should give our gratitude to those who will be working over the Christmas Holiday – to doctors, hospitals, emergency services staff and those who give their time to help the homeless over the festive season.
This year, I decided rather than send out Christmas cards, that I would provide some much needed help for the homeless. During December I visited the Newry Simon Community and MACs residence in Downpatrick to present gift boxes which were made up from donations by local businesses. As I said earlier, we should all take time to think about those who are less privileged than us. Even in a district, such as ours which is relatively prosperous, there are still those who face a bleak Christmas. The work that many do in the provision of gifts, toys and food banks should be roundly applauded.
As I have undertaken my Civic duties, I have been greatly impressed at the goodwill that exists between the diverse communities that make up our district and the amount of charity work that takes place on a daily basis by so many people who go about their tasks quietly and without self-reward, only seeking to make life a little better for those less fortunate than ourselves.
As another year comes to a close and we approach the festive season, it always seems appropriate that we take time to reflect on the year gone by. I have found it a great honour to represent Newry, Mourne and Down as the first citizen since becoming the Chairperson in May. I have been very proud to host many groups, Civic Awards and Receptions; perhaps the most inspiring was the event which in honour of our Paralympic Swimmer, Bethany Firth, winner of three gold and one silver medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. The outstanding talent in our district never ceases to amaze me.
Finally, as you prepare to share presents and gifts over the festive period, I would encourage everyone to shop local and to support the business talent, food producers and manufacturers that thrive in our district.
On behalf of all the Councillors and Staff at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and hope that 2017 will be prosperous and healthy for us all.”