Above – Director of Programmes at the North West Migrants Forum, Lilian Seenoi Barr, the moment she learnt she had been elected as a councillor.
The success makes her the first black person to hold public office in Northern Ireland.
Lilian Seenoi Barr made history on Saturday by becoming the first black politician to be elected to any public office in Northern Ireland.
The Director of Programmes at the North West Migrants Forum had campaigned tirelessly, knocking on countless doors across the Foyleside District Electoral Area.
Her efforts were repaid with 960 first preference votes – the highest of the three SDLP candidates in the hotly contested DEA. Councillor Barr said she was honoured to be returned to represent the people of Foyleside and indeed the wider city and district.
“As the first black councillor in Northern Ireland and now the first black person to be elected in Northern Ireland, this is a historic moment and I am immensely grateful to the people of Foyleside for placing their trust in me.”
Councillor Barr’s election as a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) comes 13 years after she arrived in Northern Ireland as an asylum seeker. She is from Kenya and the minority Maasai tribe.
Her polling day victory made headlines around the world and was loudly championed in her home country. The highly respected news channel ‘Citizen Digital’ picked up on the story, prompting Mrs Seenoi Barr’s name to trend online.
Lilian celebrating with her party colleagues, including SDLP party leader Colum Eastwood.
The Migrants Forum Director said she wanted to extend sincere thanks to all those who voted for her, for their support and their belief in her. She added that she hoped her election would give others the confidence to put themselves front and centre of their communities.
“This victory is not just mine but a testament to the power of diversity and representation in our community. I hope that my election serves as an inspiration for individuals from all backgrounds to step forward and serve their communities.
“I firmly believe that anyone, regardless of their background, can make a difference and serve their community. It is my hope that my success encourages others to come forward and realise their potential to effect positive change.”
On what she intends to focus on over the coming years, Councillor Barr said her aim was to make a lasting difference to the lives of local people.
“I am committed to fulfilling the promises I made during the campaign and addressing the needs and concerns of my constituents.
“I am determined to get things done and deliver tangible results for this city and its residents. I am excited to bring fresh ideas, innovation and inclusivity to local council.
“Together, we can build a stronger, more prosperous city. I am dedicated to making a lasting impact and improving the quality of life for all.
“I love this city and over the past 13 years I have made Derry my home. It’s emotional to know that this city in turn has truly adopted me and trusted me to represent them.
“Today I truly am a Derry girl.”