The City of Derry has a long and proud history stretching back through the millennia but we also have a modern and forward looking perspective which seeks to place the city at the heart of the North West, making it the economic, social, cultural and political hub of the region.

If we are to realise these ambitions for our city and citizens we require the key infrastructure to facilitate inward investment creating employment opportunities, educational attainment and visitor access.

That is why Sinn Féin is committed to the development of the A5 and A6 and are to the fore in the fight for expansion at Magee. We will continue to lead the way in promoting Derry as a cultural hub through support for the Digital/Creative Industries and as a major tourist attraction.

Sinn Féin fully supports the retention and expansion of the City of Derry Airport as well as the rail link and sea port as vital components in the marketing and regeneration of the city and region.

While the Airport as with other facilities, faces significant challenges in these difficult economic circumstances, Sinn Féin believes that as part of a proactive marketing and development strategy the burden on the ratepayers of the new Derry City and Strabane District Council could be greatly relieved.

Not many cities across the island of Ireland can boast an airport with an exemplary safety record on their doorstep. It has been able to afford local citizens the opportunity to fly to a number of destinations but has the potential, if properly marketed, to be an essential factor in encouraging investors to locate in the region. It also has tremendous potential as part of a tourism strategy to be a gateway to the city and region for foreign visitors.

While direct central government subvention may contravene EU regulations, Sinn Féin is of the belief that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) could assist in efforts to attract new airlines and new routes to the area. In this context I am calling for both the abolition of Air Passenger Duty and for DETI to market City of Derry Airport as a central aspect of its tourism strategy.

These measures would help transform Derry, making it a more attractive place, not just to live in, but to invest, work, and visit. Sinn Féin believes that a first class airport would help make the transformation a reality.