Mayor welcomes British Secretary of State to Newry
Mayor John McArdle welcomed Theresa Villiers MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on behalf of Newry and Mourne District Council on her first visit to Newry City.
During her brief visit to the City the Secretary of State met with the elected Members of Newry and Mourne District Council and with representatives of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade and Newry City Centre Partnership at events in Newry Town Hall, Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, and Bagenal’s Castle.
Mayor McArdle, in welcoming the Secretary of State to Newry, acknowledged the timeliness of her visit;
“Secretary of State the timing of your visit could not have been better chosen as this is the very month when we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the granting of City Status to Newry by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. This weekend we will commemorate over 10 years as a City with a concert in the heart of Newry at Marcus Square.”
During her visit to the City, the Secretary of State received a briefing on a range of initiatives which mark out the Newry and Mourne District as a vibrant, entrepreneurial, forward looking, and culturally diverse region.
Among the issues discussed with the Secretary of State were the Councils lead role in establishing a sustainable energy future for the region.
Mayor McArdle commented;
“Newry and Mourne District Council wants to demonstrate how working together in partnership can stimulate a move towards sustainable energy practices in an exemplar community. We aim to be an exemplar, first within the City of Newry, then in the surrounding region and ultimately on the island of Ireland.”
“This is a fundamental part of the Memorandum of Understanding which Newry and Mourne has signed with Louth Local Authorities”.
The Secretary of State learned of a number of sustainable energy initiatives currently being rolled out in the City, including the Newry Low Carbon City Zone, and the ‘Plugged in Places’ Initiative.
The Secretary of State was particularly interested in learning more of the cultural and heritage of the City.
She was treated to a briefing on the Gaeláras Mhic Ardghail Project, which is the new culturlan centre in Newry which is currently under construction. Mr Séamus MacDhaibhéid of the Newry Gaelic League cited the Gaeláras Mhic Ardghail Project as an “example of the Councils partnership approach to the development of the Irish language community”.
Following on the theme of culture and heritage, Noreen Cunningham, Museum Curator, outlined the history of 16th Century Castle which houses the Newry and Mourne Museum and which was the location for the meeting of the Council with the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State acknowledged the Councils leadership role across a range of initiatives with particular reference to the Councils lead role in managing the Community Safety Partnership. The Council took the opportunity to brief the Secretary of State on its Development Management Planning Site.
The Secretary of State also acknowledged the importance of cross border co-operation within the context of British/Irish relations. Elected members took the opportunity to highlight to Ms Villiers some of the major projects ongoing in the region.
These included the Mournes/Cooley/Gullion Geo Tourism Project which is led by Newry and Mourne District Council with Louth County Council, Banbridge and Down District Councils and which will see the development and promotion of the region as a geo-tourism destination.
The Secretary of State also learned of the Narrow Water Bridge Project, which was discussed at the meeting.
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