Republican News · Thursday 8 June 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Cathal Crumley elected Derry mayor

``I will discharge all the responsibilities of mayor to the best of my ability and I intend to do so with generosity, camaraderie and vision. I intend to embark upon a year characterised by a new openness, inclusivity and accountability,''said newly elected Derry mayor Cathal Crumley of Sinn Féin.

Cheers and sustained applause filled the Guildhall chambers as the results of the election were made known. A former republican POW and blanketman, Cathal Crumley defeated the unionist nominee Ernie Hamilton by 21 votes to 8. It was an historic victory.

Cathal Crumley is the first Sinn Féin mayor of an Irish city since Terence MacSwiney was elected in Cork in 1920. But Cathal's thoughts were closer to home. In his acceptance speech, the newly elected mayor quoted Derry nationalist H.C. O'Doherty.

```Today, a long and painful chapter in the history of Derry is closed and a new one is opened.' O'Doherty said these very words in 1920 when he was elected the first Catholic Mayor of Derry since 1688,'' said Crumley.

``O'Doherty continued: `I trust when it comes to be written it will show a spirit of toleration and forbearance amongst all creeds and classes.' These words are as relevant today as they were eighty years ago,'' Cathal told the hall. ``O'Doherty's groundbreaking election came about due to the combined Sinn Féin/nationalist vote under a proportional representation system. Shortly after proportional representation was abandoned. The majority community of this city had to wait another 50 years to have one of its members elected mayor of Derry City.

``Contrary to O'Doherty's optimism upon his election, the discrimination, demonisation and exclusion that he was referring to did not end with the election of a nationalist mayor in 1973. Until tonight it continued to be practised against republicans.'' said Cathal.

``Thankfully, tonight sees the closing of the door on the politics of exclusion with my election as the first Sinn Féin mayor of Derry City. As O'Doherty expressed all those years ago, `the mayoralty should be within the reach of every deserving citizen'.

``We are changing the face of Derry, the failed politics of exclusion end tonight and I can assure you that during my term of office no one will be denied their rights. I will be open, impartial, fair and pragmatic.

``I offer my hand of friendship to the unionist community and trust they will have the maturity to react in a reciprocal fashion for the betterment of this city. For that is what this office is all about.''

The annual meeting started 20 minutes late after more than 200 people who had gathered outside the Guildhall were allowed into the chambers to witness the election. Education Minister Martin McGuinness watched the proceedings from the public gallery.

The only sour note came from unionist councillors Gregory Campbell of the DUP and Ulster Unionist Andrew Davidson. ``The election of a terrorist mayor will make the chasm [between unionist and nationalist] wider and deeper than ever before,'' said Campbell. Davidson was afraid of ``a year of republican triumphalism''.

Unionist councillor Ernie Hamilton was returned for a second term as deputy mayor with the unanimous support of the council.

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