Council chairman's Christmas message to the people of the district

THE chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Errol Thompson, has extended season's greetings to the citizens of the district in an annual Christmas message.

In a statement, Mr Thompson said: "As chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to publicly take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

"Christmas is traditionally a very family orientated time when family members who are part of the diaspora try to make it home to spend Christmas with their loved ones. For many this may not be possible this year, but rest assured you remain very much in our thoughts at this time.

"2021 has proved to be yet another difficult year as the Covid-19 pandemic remains prevalent in the community. Thankfully, however, the availability and widespread administration of the vaccines has mitigated against the worst effects of the virus. I would appeal to everyone to avail of the vaccine and booster to afford themselves and by association the most vulnerable in our society, added protection against the coronavirus and continue to follow Public Health advice.

"While there are still restrictions in place, I am confident that this Christmas will be a considerable improvement on last year, with shops and entertainment venues open and the opportunity to meet up with family and friends, a welcome and significant improvement on last year.

"I am delighted to announce that Santa Claus has avoided travel restrictions and will be making his yearly visit on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts for boys and girls across the district. For many homes Christmas morning will bring great excitement as Santa’s presents are revealed.

"As always, the Christmas lights enhance the appearance of the main thoroughfares in the towns making them warm and welcoming to locals and visitors alike. The switching on of the Christmas lights is a signal that the Christmas season is with us and there is a noticeable buzz of excitement and anticipation in our towns. Again, this year, due to the Covid-19 health pandemic and to avoid large gatherings, the council did not have its annual celebratory event to officially switch on the lights but instead, organised an extended programme of family festive entertainment for Enniskillen and Omagh town centres and at a number of our venues across the district.

"I was delighted to welcome Santa to Omagh on November 20 and to join him on an impromptu walkabout, meeting hundreds of excited children and it was heartening to see their faces light up at meeting the main man.

"The council continues to support our town centres and I would encourage the entire community to maintain their support for local businesses by shopping locally. I ask you to bear this in mind when it comes to your last minute Christmas shopping. We are very grateful to those shops who are also offering online shopping, telephone ordering and delivery at this time of year for those who may not want to venture out into public spaces at this time.

"Our senior citizens are particularly vulnerable at this time of year. I would ask that you continue to look out for our more senior members of our community especially those on their own.

"As First Citizen, I am proud of the manner in which the people of the Fermanagh and Omagh district have responded and continue to respond the Covid-19 pandemic. Your resilience in the face of such challenges is exceptional. I would like to express my gratitude on behalf of the people of the district to the frontline staff across all sectors who continue to deliver critical services across the district.

"Finally, I would like to wish each and every one of you a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas and New Year and convey my genuine hopes for a brighter, better future in 2022."

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