SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan hosted a breakfast seminar in the City Hotel this morning where contributors and attendees unanimously called for action on a new ‘City Deal’ for Derry.
The seminar, chaired by Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood, included a panel discussion comprising of Professor Deirdre Heenan, local economist Paul Gosling and past President of the Chamber of Commerce Philip Gilliland.
Mr Durkan said: “Today’s seminar was a great opportunity to outline the efforts made since our first breakfast seminar in March aimed at securing a City Deal for Derry.
“While SNP MP Drew Hendry was unfortunately unable to attend, his comments about how Inverness – which is a similar size to Derry – have grasped the potential of a City Deal for their area shows that Derry should be championing these powers for our own city.
“It was positive to see the range of individuals attending today’s seminar – and I will continue to push for more power to Derry which would deliver the better, more prosperous city we all want to see.”
Professor Deirdre Heenan said: “We were quite clear in the recent Heenan-Anderson Commission report that current policies aren’t working.
“What this city needs is a huge transformation to unlock its potential.
“This may be a once in a generation opportunity to achieve that potential.”
Economist Paul Gosling said: “We all know what needs to be done – we need good transport infrastructure, a good airport, good schools and an excellent university which can be the heart that pumps new life into this city.
“It is now a matter of getting our own control in order to make that happen.
“I therefore believe a City Deal can deliver that capacity going forward.”
Philip Gilliland, past President of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “I believe that a City Deal could provide real leverage and therefore should be considered.
“Within Derry there is a broad consensus as to what the key priorities are – schools, the university, infrastructure. We therefore need real movement on these key priority areas and must engage with the City Deal process.”