By Sinn Féin Councillor and local resident Patricia Logue
It appears that Colum Eastwood falls into the old trap of thinking that if you say something often enough then people might actually believe what you are saying.
From experience I know people are wiser than that and know political point scoring when they see it.
When the One Plan was finally completed, apart from the enormous amount of work that went in to it, we all heralded it as Derry speaking with one voice. No more would we be accused of not having a clear set of strategic demands and they would be the focus of all our endeavours.
Of course the SDLP believe that this applies to everyone but them.
One of the 11 Catalyst Projects, is the Foyle Valley Gateway, which has 36 regeneration initiatives and incorporates the Brandywell stadium, Showgrounds and Daisyfield and the wider area stretching along the river to Craigavon bridge.
No part of it should stand in isolation to the other and that the people who live in the Greater Brandywell, Bishop Street and Fountain area would be the focus of the need for change and improvement. As someone who lives in the area it is my belief that is what people here want to see unfold.
Indeed my recollection from the time was that there was a degree of opposition to the Foyle Valley Gateway being included as one of the Cataylst Projects, although Sinn Féin argued strongly that it had to be included. Others can put forward where they stood on its inclusion, needless to say, included it was.
Sinn Féin believed that this was the best and most strategic way to maximise funding opportunities and thus address and seek redress to the long term underdevelopment and neglect of the area over many years.
I suppose at this juncture I could remind people that the SDLP in Derry City Council voted down a number of Sinn Féin proposals to develop not only the stadium but the general area as well.
That said, the recent decisions made across a number of bodies and departments is vindication of the One Plan approach, a strategic approach. It points to the successes to date and points the way forward in continuing the programme of delivery.
Derry City Council has committed £2.75m for the initial phase of the stadium development. This is not subject to, despite ill informed claims, match funding. The works schedule will be announced with full consultation with Derry City FC to ensure minimum disruption to their fixture list. Indeed some of the already scheduled demolition work has been postponed to ensure that when the contractors go on site best use of resources and maximum progress will be made in the best timeline possible.
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure through CarálNíChuilín as Minister has announced £2m for the Daisyfield and its environs.
From Martin McGuinness’s office, the Social Investment Fund as part of its £9.6m package to address underdevelopment in deprived areas in Derry has earmarked over £1m for pitch and play facilities in the Brandywell and Showgrounds.
Aras Cholmcille in the former Wee Nuns’ school, the improvement work to the Flyover, the extension to the Gasyard centre with funding secured from the City of Culture pot and the inclusion of shops and business premises on Bishop Street without in the next round of the RESTORE Project key to ongoing social and economic development of this area.
Other applications to the Boxing Strategy Fund and DSD will see major redevelopment of the Showgrounds and the Riverside Walk to include the opening up of the river for social access, childrens play and leisure facilities. This has the potential to open the area for much need economic investment and jobs.
Sinn Féin has consistently contended that we must at all times seek to maximise opportunities to deliver across the range of needs of the people of Derry and beyond. That work continues.
Narrow interest, lack of vision and strategic thinking only leads to lack of delivery.
So whereas it may be populist and help fill column inches to play make believe and pretend politics of promise much but deliver little. It is not the Sinn Féin way.
In terms of querying Carál Ní Chuilín’s delivery record for Derry, I simply urge people to bear the following in mind.
If funding of over £12 million had not been delivered by her Department for the City of Culture, would 2013 been the magnificent year it was? Don’t take my word for it simply ask the Culture Company and the citizens of Derry.
Also be reminded of how Carál has responded each and every time issues are raised around funding, she has outlined all that she has done and finishes with, “and we are not done yet.”
Sinn Féin remains committed to the delivery of the Foyle Valley Gateway project as outlined and agreed upon in the One Plan. Be assured, as we continue on our programme of delivery it will include the required development of the stadium and much more besides.
We are not done yet, indeed.