There is no doubt that Derry is a city of huge potential. We are known around the world and have produced internationally recognised figures in the arts, science, business and sport. The people of Derry are one of the greatest assets the city has; they are resilient, determined and optimistic and have never stopped hoping.
As a city, we have faced many challenges over the years. Now, however, we are facing the future with a new sense of possibility, a feeling that this is a time of real change and opportunities for Derry and the wider north west region. This did not happen by accident. It took a great deal of hard work over a number of years. Sinn Féin is at the heart of that, driving the process of change forward.
Despite the huge progress that has been made in recent years, Derry is still facing inequalities and challenges. Unemployment is still too high, our infrastructure is not up to standard and too many families are waiting struggling to get by. Derry is still struggling to realise its true potential.
We have had so many visions, proposals and plans; now it is time for action. None of these problems are insurmountable. With a clear political will and a commitment from all sections of civic society to work together we can overcome these difficulties.
More progress is needed on the expansion of the city’s university at Magee. We need to see the cap on student numbers lifted so that Derry can truly become a university city. An expanded Magee, with a focus on STEM courses and working in partnership with schools and the city’s further education college will provide a skilled and well educated workforce. It will also help foster a spirit of entrepreneurship to grow and develop the local economy. This will open up a whole range go fresh opportunities for our young people.
Derry has demonstrated what can be achieved when we all work together, particularly during the City of Culture celebrations in 2013. For me, the huge success of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann showed the impact a united city can have. Everyone in the city – from all communities – got together to ensure that it was one of the most remarkable events in the history of Derry and a week we will never forget.
This city has so much to be proud of, particularly its people, and its the people of Derry who have the power to make the change. That is why I am standing as the Sinn Féin candidate for Foyle in the upcoming general election. Foyle needs a champion who will speak with a strong voice for all communities and work with all interested parties to secure the best future possible for everyone in Derry.
I want to be that champion.