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Former Mayor Graham Warke quits the DUP

Outgoing Mayor of Derry City and Strabane Graham Warke has left the DUP following his experiences during his year of office which ended last night.

Former Mayor of Derry City and Strabane Graham Warke
Former Mayor of Derry City and Strabane Graham Warke

The Newbuildings man says he intends to pursue his political career independently, saying the only way for the city and district to prosper is if people work together.

"It was a huge honour for me to represent all of the people of this wonderful City and District as the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council. I loved every minute of it and want to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone for their continued support and assistance throughout the year," he said in a statement issued before last night's annual general meeting of the council.

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"My year as Mayor has made me reflect on my career and my priorities going forward and this evening, I informed the DUP that from today I want to move forward with a new political pathway, I am committed to move this City and District into a more progressive and united future, one that embraces the needs of all the people who live and work here.

"My year as Mayor has really emphasised the need for a new future, one that is based on reconciliation and building bridges. My decision to leave the DUP and to pursue my political career independently was made in close consultation with the electorate, my family and friends and wider community.

"I have been talking to people at the grassroots who are supportive of my decision and who believe, like me, that a moderate, progressive and positive political pathway is best for me and for this City and District.

"I firmly believe that if Derry~Londonderry Strabane is to prosper then it can only do so if we all work together. If we are to succeed in bringing prosperity, jobs, investment here then we need our politicians to all come together to work hard with real determination and courage on all sides.

"I am committed to doing that, and, to work with my colleagues from all political backgrounds at Council towards a new and better future for everyone. One that focuses on the needs and aspirations of our young people.

"I will be continuing to represent all of my constituents as an elected representative of Derry City and Strabane District Council but in the meantime will be taking some time out to spend with family and friends."

Sinn Fein's Sandra Duffy was elected as the new mayor of the city and district with Angela Dobbins of the SDLP as her deputy.