In her annual New Year message Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson focuses on the year ahead.
The Ulster Unionist said: “While the spotlight over the Christmas and New Year period has been on the sad loss of so many well-known stars from stage and screen, we must never forget those families in our local community who quietly bear their grief as 2017 arrives. They are all very much in my thoughts and prayers at this time.
“The last 12 months continued to bring hardship and difficult times for many local families and in lending a helping hand I once again commend the volunteers of our fantastic local community groups and charities.
“The sheer volume of quiet and selfless work which local people carry out day in and day out to make a real and lasting difference in our community never ceases to amaze me and I have been proud to continue to work alongside so many local heroes . . .
“Entering a new year provides a time to look back and to quietly take stock but it also enables us to look forwards to new opportunities and new beginnings.
“I also wish our local traders and those who have established new businesses, many of them family-run, a successful and prosperous 2017 as well as our doctors, nurses, medical professionals, emergency services and Her Majesty’s armed forces as they work hard in increasingly challenging circumstances to protect us and keep us safe.
“In 2017 I will continue to deliver on my pledge to work hard for local people – to support, encourage and to challenge those in positions of responsibility to do more for those hard-working families who are the backbone of Northern Ireland – to put people before politics and do what’s right for Northern Ireland. My family and my Ulster Unionist colleagues join me in offering everyone our best wishes for a Happy, Peaceful and Healthy 2017.”