Londonderry’s newest DUP representative Graham Warke says it’s a privilege to be part of a local team now representing the people of the North West all the way from the local Council to the House of Lords.
The Newbuildings native, who has been co-opted to fill the vacancy on Derry City and Strabane District Council left by Gary Middleton’s recent departure, says it’s a humbling honour to have been selected for the role but insists he’s up for the challenge and will give his constituents in the Faughan District Electoral Area (DEA) one hundred per cent.
“It’s going to be a new challenge but I’m looking forward to it. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get involved in at some stage and to have the opportunity now is a real privilege,” he told the Sentinel.
“Obviously, following on from Gary is going to be difficult because he’s done such an amazing job. He’s taken that work on now to Stormont and already in his maiden speech [highlighting the problem of suicide] has raised an issue that affects a lot of people.
“It’s something that I’ve been concentrating on, highlighting the problem of legal highs and the knock on effects this can have in the forms of self-harm and suicide, particularly amongst young people.
“Gary brought up the statistics in Stormont and it’s very scary when you hear the statistics, it’s very alarming.
“As a youth worker you encounter many issues and that would be one of them, but it’s not just young people, it’s everybody.
“You get involved in politics because you believe you can make a difference and hopefully I can make a change and help people.
“Employment is another issue as well. There seems to be so many young people leaving the city. We want to keep them here.
“In the area I’m covering, the rural area, there is a lot of unemployment. Hopefully we can try to target young people and get them into training programmes and eventually into work.”
Mr Warke, aged 34, recognises he is the latest torchbearer for the DUP in what has been a heartland. He’ll be following in the footsteps of past and current champions such as John Henry, Mervyn Lindsey, Maurice Devenney, Gary Middleton and William Hay, now Lord Hay of Ballyore.
“I’m going to give it 100 per cent and do my best. I’ve got a great team with the DUP in Londonderry,” he said.
“I’m absolutely delighted. Sometimes you think: Is it the right time? In six weeks I’m going to be a father again but when you have your family supporting you, when is there a right time? Anybody who knows me knows I give 100 per cent in anything that I do and if I can help them and support them I’ll do that throughout the rural area. I want people, if they need support or help, to get in touch.”