Sinn Féin group leader on Derry City and Strabane district council Sandra Duffy speaking at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast said
“One of our main priorities for Derry City and the North West City Region is around its economic growth and to deliver this we have produced an Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan for the entire City Region.
“This plan has the potential to bring about a step change in economic performance and address decades of regional imbalances and blatant discrimination west of the Bann.
“We have recognised that City Deals are the vehicle that we can use to bring us the best opportunity to deliver this economic turnaround and ensure maximum impact for our communities, and on that basis we are keen to open up negotiations with the British Government.
“The British Government has now formally committed to a City Deal for the Belfast region; it has allocated staff to negotiate a deal and has set a target to agree Heads of terms in time for the British Chancellors Autumn Statement.
“However, the British Government has still not given any formal commitment to a deal for the North West.
“It has not allocated members of staff to negotiate a deal and no target to agree Heads of Terms have been set.
“When the secretary of state Karen Bradley has been challenged on this and asked why there was a formal commitment to Belfast and not to the North West, she said that the Belfast deal was more advanced…the opposite was true!!!
“When this was pointed out to Karen Bradley she then said that you needed a population of over one million, but wait…Aberdeen has a City Deal, population half a million, Inverness has a City Deal, population 234,000 thousand. When we look at the North West City Region, which includes Donegal, we are talking about a population of 350,000 thousand.
“Our MP Elisha McCallion has been fighting for this City Deal, she has raised it at all levels of the British Government, at meetings with Teresa May, at meetings with Karen Bradley and at meetings with the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
“We are fully supportive of Belfast’s City Deal, but we truly believe it is time to undo decades of regional disparity; it is time for equality for our citizens in the North West.
“It is time to dispense with the excuses; it is time that the British Government formally committed to a City Deal for the North West Region.
This Ard Fheis asserts that:
- City Deals should be focussed on promoting inclusive growth;
- the Belfast and North West deals should be treated equally. To this end the British government should extend its formal commitment for a deal in Belfast to the North West;
- governance arrangements should be based on existing democratic structures.
Derry Comhairle Ceantair