Ulster Unionist Cllr Julie Flaherty, who spearheaded scrapping council burial fees for children, has been elected Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.
Mrs Flaherty and her husband Wayne lost their son Jake in 2013 and her calls for council burial fees to be scrapped has rippled across NI with many other councils also adopting the policy.
Sinn Fein’s Paul Duffy, who is a councillor in Portadown, was elected Deputy Lord Mayor of the council. Cllr Duffy, a Garvaghy Road resident, said he is proud to represent a community which ‘has, for far too long, been marginalised’.
Newly elected Lord Mayor, Cllr Flaherty has described herself as an ‘accidental councillor’ who wants to put children at the heart of her year in public office.
And she praised her party colleagues who she said ‘brought me back to life’. “I am not, and never will be, a career politician. My colleagues have given me great support over the past few years, which have been hard at times personally. I want to thank them all for putting their trust in me and during the year that follows,” she said.
“The experiences I have had in business, with daily struggles, with local healthcare and life in general have served me well so far, and will help me now at what really is the beginning of a very exciting year in Council and within the party.
“We need to bring back that feeling of Civic Pride around our towns and villages - through the economy, redevelopment and regeneration plans and by supporting our town centres and local businesses.
“I am utterly passionate about people, especially our children and young people and their future in this Borough,” she said vowing to seee every council building and chamber full of children and young people.
Cllr Duffy said: “I am delighted to fulfil this role of Deputy Mayor on behalf of the party. I have represented Portadown for over eight years and throughout that have advocated for all.
“I am also deeply proud to be from the Garvaghy road area, a community which was, for far too long, marginalised and which can now look forward to a better future.
“The year ahead will be full of opportunities and I hope to shine a positive light on Portadown and its many assets including our wonderful People’s Park and our vibrant diverse multi cultural community.
“As Deputy Mayor I want to see council tackling social deprivation and inequalities right across the Borough. I also want to be an advocate for rural areas which are too often left behind when it comes to investment.
“I am also aware of the countless community groups and charities that work tirelessly throughout ABC changing lives for the better daily,” said the Deputy Lord Mayor.