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Outgoing Derry first citizen Michaela Boyle's sadness at rise in domestic abuse


Tribute: Michaela Boyle

Tribute: Michaela Boyle

Tribute: Michaela Boyle

The outgoing Mayor of Derry and Strabane has paid tribute to workers on the frontline of domestic abuse - who have faced additional challenges during the coronavirus lockdown.

Foyle Woman's Aid had been chosen by the Sinn Fein councillor as her nominated charity during her year as mayor which has seen the numbers of people reporting domestic abuse soar as a result of the lockdown.

Michaela Boyle, whose sister Mairead McCallion (36) died in hospital from a bleed on the brain days after being assaulted by her partner of six years in 2014 at their home in Omagh, said: "Since I took up the post of Mayor, no one could have foreseen what lay ahead of us and the very sad irony in my chosen domestic abuse charity seeing the number of people needing their help soar.

"Even within families never impacted by domestic violence before, there have been reports - whether that was coercive control, physical or mental abuse and there has been a sharp spike in cases during lockdown.

"Personally I want to pay tribute to those on the frontline working with victims of domestic abuse who have had had the amount of people needing help increase sharply.

"Unfortunately fundraising for my chosen charities had to be curtailed because of Covid-19 but over the course of the past few weeks so many businesses, groups, sporting clubs and individuals have stepped up and filled that gap so I want to thank them because they have been phenomenal."

Mrs Boyle also remembered the 21 families in the Derry and Strabane Council area who were bereaved by Covid-19 but commended the community for the way they bought in to the Chief Executive, John Kelpie's decision to follow the lead of the Irish Government and go into lockdown 10 days in advance of the British Government.

She continued: "My heartfelt sympathy and thoughts remain with the families of our city and district who lost loved ones to Covid-19.

"Their pain and sorrow and the circumstances in which they had to say their last goodbyes is something I think we were all touched by.

"Being a Mayor of a border council wasn't easy during this pandemic especially when things happening across the border were not in tandem with what was happening here, but I do think the brave decision to go into lockdown at the same time as Donegal made a huge difference and contributed to the fact that Derry and Strabane has the second lowest number of Covid fatalities in the six counties. John Kelpie's decision was made easier by the buy-in of our business owners and by the community who shut their doors before St Patrick's Day and Mother's Day and stayed at home.

"Looking back over this very unique time to be Mayor, I am most proud of the community spirit and community resilience that shone through - something I hope will remain long after the coronavirus has disappeared."

Belfast Telegraph