New face on SF’s Mid Ulster Council team admits she has ‘big shoes to fill’

Torrent Sinn Fein councillor, Niamh Doris, with MLA Linda Dillon, at the party's Coalisland office
Torrent Sinn Fein councillor, Niamh Doris, with MLA Linda Dillon, at the party's Coalisland office

A passion for politics, sparked during her primary school days, when she was chosen to interview Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, was a pivotal moment in the life of Torrent councillor, Niamh Doris.

The new face on Mid Ulster District Council, who was co-opted into the seat formerly held by Linda Dillon MLA, Niamh admits she has “big shoes to fill”, but is ready for the challenge.

The 25 year-old Derrylaughan woman worked for a period with Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA, Michelle Gildernew in Dungannon.

Prior to that, Niamh worked in events, but felt her true calling lay in the political arena.

Indeed, an encounter with the current Deputy First Minister McGuinness well over a decade ago, appears to have provided the impetus for Cllr Doris to pursue that career path.

“I was chosen to go to Stormont when I was in Primary Seven and got the chance to interview Martin McGuinness”, she tells the TIMES.

“I think that is what grabbed my interest in politics and was something that I really loved and enjoyed. It is still very early days for me as a councillor, but I am enjoying it. Linda (Dillon) has very big shoes to fill but I am happy that I am on the council’s Development Committee because that is an area in which I am interested, after studying tourism.

“Tourism is an area which I have a genuine interest in and, certainly, investment is a bit of an issue with the Brexit vote. But I think there are a lot of positives in the Mid Ulster area, I am looking forward to seeing the new Seamus Heaney Home Place, for instance. I do think we don’t realise what we have on our doorsteps locally, and I am glad that I can have an input into how we look at our tourism strategy and get the most out of it.”

Other issues of importance in the area served by the new councillor, she feels, are the need for housing in the Coalisland and surrounding areas, as well as benefits and employment.

Both Niamh and her colleague, Mrs Dillon, are clear that life in politics is not a “nine to five” job, but enjoy the challenge and variety afforded to them.

The appointment of a woman to her vacant council seat was something which was very important for Linda Dillon personally, and to the party as a whole, she explains.

“We felt it was extremely important, given the under-representation of women on the council and even within our own party, that I was replaced by a woman”, said Mrs Dillon.

“Women, especially when the time comes for them to have a family if they so wish, shouldn’t be made to feel like they have to withdraw from their job in politics. I think the experiences that women and mothers have in life are very important to the job they carry out, and can really enrich how we do that job.”