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Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin has planted oak trees in forest parks located within each of the seven District Electoral Areas (DEAs). The trees signify strength, hope and community resilience in light of the challenges residents faced and continue to face with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chairperson was supported by a community representative from each of the DEAs with the tree planting. 

Councillor Laura Devlin said, “As my term as first citizen of the district comes to an end, I have been reminiscing about the wonderful people, organisations and communities that I have been honoured to meet over the last 12 months.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin is pictured with her husband Sean and their two children Polly and Tom at the Slieve Croob DEA oak tree planting event in Castlewellan Forest Park with community representative Maria McKeating, Ballykinlar GAC.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Laura Devlin is pictured with her husband Sean and their two children Polly and Tom at the Slieve Croob DEA oak tree planting event in Castlewellan Forest Park with community representative Maria McKeating, Ballykinlar GAC.

“In recognition of all their achievements, I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to plant these trees across our district. They will grow and prosper and fit into the natural environment by providing rich habitats for wildlife. I have chosen the oak tree as it is a symbol of strength and survival. It can live for centuries and is considered the king of trees! 

“To me, the oak tree epitomises what I have seen across our community during my time as Chairperson and especially during this worldwide pandemic.  I have witnessed communities who have gone above and beyond, communities who have flourished and grown under the most challenging of circumstances, and communities who have not realised their own strength. This is why I have asked a community representative from each DEA to help me plant the trees.” 

Councillor Devlin said that the COVID-19 outbreak had been a time of great worry and concern for residents, with an impact on children’s education and many fearful for their jobs and businesses.  As we begin to move forward and look to the future, she said she hoped the trees would be a symbol of hope, and a reminder of all that the community have been through and achieved since the beginning of the pandemic.

She continued, “I have been honoured to have been your Chairperson for the last 12 months and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all. Special thanks must be extended to our NHS who have worked tirelessly under the most challenging of circumstances. To the statutory and community organisations who came and worked together to help those who are the most vulnerable or most in need in our district.  

“To our teachers who have guided and educated our children in ways that we would never have imagined possible.  To the parents and guardians who had to become teachers, I congratulate you all. To the retail sector who worked extra hours to ensure they we all had everything that we need.”

Finally, Councillor Devlin extended her gratitude to those who could not work from home and had to go out to work every day to do their job.  She expressed her thanks to all the residents who followed the NI Executives guidance and stayed home to keep us safe.

She concluded, “Last year when I was selected to be Chairperson, I knew this would be a year like no other.  However, I can honestly say it has been my greatest honour. As I have said before, this period of time is not forever – it will pass and I hope that the oak trees will be a lasting legacy of my gratitude to you all and all that we have achieved as a district.”

A video of the community representatives who participated in the planting of oak trees in forest parks located within each of the seven District Electoral Areas (DEAs) is available to view below.

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