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THE victory over Dublin on Monday (18 March) served as a reminder of
the sweet success manager James Macartan acheived when he faced them as a
player in the All Ireland final in 1994, Macartan scoring the only goal
of the match…

THE SDLP’s newest South Down MLA, Seán Rogers, has now formally taken office.

After a short signing-in ceremony at Stormont, Mr Rogers took over the seat vacated by South Down MP Margaret Ritchie who will be focussing on her South Down parliamentary constituency work as MP.

Seán signed the members’ register on Monday in the presence of Speaker William Hay, Director of Clerking John Stewart, SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell, Ms Ritchie and South Down Assembly colleague Karen McKevitt MLA.

Mr Rogers said: “I am looking forward immensely to putting the case for South Down to the Assembly, particularly at this time of austerity.

“I would like to pay fulsome and wholehearted tribute to Margaret for all the work she has done at Stormont and I know that she will continue to make the same sterling contribution at Westminster.

Seán Rogers MLA signs the Members’ Register. Accompanying are SDLP Leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP MLA, Assembly Speaker William Hay MLA, South Down MLA Karen McKevitt and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie

“I look forward to continuing working with Margaret, as well as my constituency colleague in the Assembly Karen McKevitt and all our councillors in Banbridge, Down District and Newry and Mourne councils.

“It is my fervent hope that I can be a positive addition to the SDLP’s Assembly team and secure the best deal for all the people of South Down.

Speaking about the challenges ahead for the forthcoming term at Stormont, Seán said, “There are three key issues facing South Down. Firstly, jobs and the economy is foremost. This affects all of our communities and parishes right across the board. In my own gaelic club of An Riocht, we have 26 young people who have gone away to Australia as there is no work here for them.

“The world-wide recession is affecting everyone and we must focus on our key opportunities to move forward. There are huge opportunities in the renewable energies for South Down… but they have to be developed sympathetically with the interests of the local fishing industry, the farming community and the tourist sector.

“The fishing industry generated almost £30 million to the Northern Ireland economy last year and we must protect this. We have to work closely together. There will be some green opportunities for the marine sector and some of these skills are transferrable so they could lead to jobs in areas such as the Isle of Man and other energy centres.

“Secondly, tourism is vital to South Down. In Ireland there are two Kingdoms, Kerry and the Mournes. The one in Kerry is infinitely better marketed and supported than in our own area… we have a long way to go. It is therefore important to see that visitor accomodation is increased especially with more B&B’s.

“The Titanic experience in Belfast will be good for the city but we need more of a trickle down to the rural areas.

“And lastly, the agri-food industry is potentially an area where many jobs could be created. There are no longer beef and grain mountains in the EU. We can market Mourne potatoes just as well the Comber potato. Farmers have become more innovative in recent years. Even Mourne lamb could be marketed as a product.

“I am really looking forward to working across all parts of South Down and will be bringing my experience in different areas into use. It will be a huge challenge as there is so much to be done.”

Speaking as she handed over the reins, Ms Ritchie said: “I very much welcome Seán’s appointment to my seat and, as MP, I look forward to working with him as part of our constituency team.

“We have a broad range of issues – infrastructure, social justice and industry among many others – which we will be pulling together on for the people of South Down, and Seán’s contribution will be highly valued.”

Personal Profile: Seán Rogers

Seán lives outside Kilkeel with his wife Rosemary and family of five, four girls and one boy.

After receiving his early education in Grange Primary, St. Columban’s College, Kilkeel, and then Abbey Grammar School, Newry, he graduated from Queens University, Belfast, and University of Ulster. He began his teaching career in St Paul’s High School, Bessbrook, and in 1987 moved back to the Mournes to St Louis Grammar School Kilkeel. He retired as Principal of St Louis in 2007. He is qualified as a Business, Executive and Life Coach.

Seán has a keen interest in all things rural, enjoys supporting his local GAA club An Riocht, spending time in the Donegal Gaeltacht, reading, gardening, cycling and hill walking. He has been a member of the SDLP for over 20 years.

Also heavily involved in parish life and running the Accord marriage preparation course for his diocese, Seán is kept on his toes.