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SDLP Announce Newcastle Area Local Election Candidates
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THE SDLP’s selection convention for the District Electoral Area of Newcastle took place on Sunday night (13th February) in Hillyard House, Castlewellan.

The selection convention was well attended by party members from both the Castlewellan and Newcastle Branches, along with the SDLP Party Leader  Margaret Ritchie MP MLA.

At this meeting members selected the existing three SDLP Councillors to stand in the Local Government Elections of May the 5th.

Brian Rooney who chaired the Selection Convention said, “I am pleased to announce the selection of Peter Fitzpatrick, Carmel O’Boyle and Eamonn ONeill who will stand for election in the Newcastle District Electoral Area.

“These three individuals have worked extremely well as a team over the past number of years and have worked tirelessly for the people of the area. I have no hesitation that the electorate will come out again in May in support of their good work and I wish them every success in the campaign.”

Pictured at the SDLP Newcastle selection convention are, front row, Down District Councillors Carmel O'Boyle, Eamonn O'Neill and Peter Fitzpatrick with South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, centre, and Brian Rooney, convention chairman.

Councillor Peter Fitzpatrick paid tribute to those who have worked with him over the years and looked forward to the next election challenge.  He pledged to do whatever it takes to ensure his election and that of his colleagues Eamonn and Carmel.  He said, “We are in very difficult economic times and it’s imperative to have a sound reliable and trustworthy Councillor representing your needs. I have demonstrated my ability over the years to work hard for the people that I represent and I promise to continue this strong work ethic throughout my campaign and with the help of the electorate into a further Council term.

Councillor O’Boyle said, “The Newcastle electoral area has been transformed in recent years and this has been down to the hard work and dedication of the SDLP team. We achieved a state-of-the-art promenade that is attracting visitors from far and wide who are in turn contributing to our economy. We also secured a ‘street-scape’ scheme which has transformed the Main Street of Newcastle, we attained a flood alleviation scheme which has now freed up land for 130 social housing units in the much needed town of Newcastle – all projects that were driven by the SDLP.”

Councillor Eamonn O’Neill thanked those present for their hard work and dedication over the years and promised to do his utmost to continue his representation into another council term. “We in the SDLP are fully aware of the difficult times that we face, and coming from a town such as Castlewellan, I am regularly meeting young people who are unemployed… young people who are desperate for a job.

“It is therefore vitally important that Councillors are elected on merit. That they are elected because the people of the area know that they are trustworthy and have the ability to get the job done. Following a lot of hard work, I am delighted as chairman of Down District Council that a 0% increase in rates for the next financial year has been achieved, a challenge that at times seemed impossible. However, with hard work and dedication of the Committee that I Chaired, we achieved this.  I therefore look forward to the election and the further work that I can do to assist those seeking employment, and those seeking a better life.”

SDLP Leader and South Down MP, Margaret Ritchie MLA addressed party members at the convention, and said,  “I  congratulate the SDLP’s team of council candidates for the local government elections on the 5th may. Eamonn ONeill, Carmel O’Boyle and Peter Fitzpatrick have a wealth of experience in serving and representing the needs of their constituents on a range of issues from farming, housing town centre revitalisation, planning, benefits, job creation, health and social care issues.

“Where other parties have failed in terms of the provision of improved roads and water infrastructure, the SDLP has provided for those in need through social housing programmes in Newcastle, Drumaness, Castlewellan and Downpatrick as well as community development and town regeneration programmes such as Newcastle which has boosted the local economy and job creation.

“Through partnership government, power-sharing, reconciliation and working together at central and local government level the sdlp will lead on working on the issues that count.

At local government the SDLP will continue to work for the retention of 24-hour accident and emergency services at the  Downe hospital and the provision of new services.  We will continue to expose the under-lying weakness in the minister’s determination on the removal of night-time cover which was based on inadequate robust recruitment procedures for middle grade doctors. The Minister for Health needs to set aside that decision immediately and re-evaluate and re-assess the whole process.

The SDLP team in the Newcastle district electoral area will lead on these issues in this election and in the new council.”