Exciting New Forums Established to Lead the Way in Engaging the Community
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have recently established District Electoral Area Forums (DEA’s) to proactively work in partnership with the community to deal with local identified issues.
The seven Forums will operate across the following areas: Slieve Gullion, Slieve Croob, Rowallane, Downpatrick, The Mournes, Crotlieve and Newry.
DEA Fora are being developed as a model of engagement and must therefore provide opportunities for all sections of the community to participate in discussion and operate as part of the decision making process. Through the operation of the Fora, Councillors, Council Officers and key statutory partners will also have an opportunity to discuss and debate the issues with key community representatives.
A major part of this work will be to develop and implement locally based action plans that take into account the diverse needs that exist with each of the seven District Electoral Areas.
The establishment of this engagement infrastructure will further enable the community to effectively inform and influence the Community Planning Partnership at a strategic level.
Crotlieve DEA Chairperson, Cllr Declan McAteer said, “I am delighted at being given the opportunity to help shape this new body at its formation. Local people can engage with their Council and Councillors more effectively. Through cooperation we would hope to deliver on those issues which the community attaches greatest importance to. I am determined to make it a democratic forum by bringing together a true and reflective representative of the people and all communities residing within it. I will endeavour to ensure their input is valued, recognised and implemented to the best of our Council's ability. If together we can improve the overall quality of life for those living in Crotlieve then we will have succeeded.”
Downpatrick DEA Chairperson, Cllr Colin McGrath said, “'There are many issues within the Downpatrick DEA that must be addressed and I hope this forum will provide a mechanism for Council being able to listen to the views of local people and ensure government departments respond to local needs. Our council must be people-focussed and be accountable to local people and this forum is an excellent way to achieve this.”
Rowallane DEA Chairperson, Cllr William Walker said, “It's a privilege to have been elected as the first Chairman of the Rowallane DEA and I look forward to working with my Rowallane Council colleagues, Independent members & Council officials. I believe that if the DEA is allowed to bed in it will be a great asset to the Rowallane area as it will be a vehicle for community groups to address the issues that matter to them within their area. It will also give community groups a voice in local Government which has been long overdue.”
Newry DEA Chairperson, Cllr Valerie Heart said, “ I'm delighted to have been elected Chair of the Newry City DEA. This is the first time that a Forum such as this has been established and it gives us a unique and effective opportunity to allow our new Council to meet its strategic objectives as outlined in the Community Plan. Each DEA operates as a mechanism for communication between Council, Community and relevant Statutory and Voluntary Agencies. It will provide for continuous engagement at a grass roots level to help develop locally based action plans on agreed issues with progress monitored through local bi-monthly Forum meetings.”
Slieve Croob DEA Chairperson, Cllr Stephen Burns said, “I’m delighted to sit as Chairperson of the Slieve Croob DEA forum and am looking forward to real change in the area. The Slieve Croob DEA allows for increased communication between Council and both community/voluntary and statutory groups. The formation of the DEA forum shows that we are committed to working together, not apart, in providing better public services, making sure the Slieve Croob community are genuinely engaged in the decisions made on public services which affect them. I am committed to delivering real improvements for my constituents.”
Slieve Gullion DEA Chairperson, Cllr Barra Ó Muirí said, “It is a huge honour to be chosen Chair of Slieve Gullion DEA. Sinn Féin have a great track record of providing services for the people of South Armagh, and I wish to express, as chair, my commitment to serve all citizens of our DEA, by working to provide improved infrastructure, better services and increased community safety, reflecting the times we live in.
The Mournes DEA Interim Chairperson, Cllr Harold Mckee said, “Since the introduction of the Review of Public Administration within the Local Government Authority this New Forum is the most positive step yet for community engagement within the Mourne's DEA. Having Chaired the initial Mourne Forum Meeting I believe this is the connection between the community, the statutory bodies and the Newry, Mourne and Down Council.”