AFTER the deadline to restore power-sharing was missed yesterday, SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan urges all political parties to engage in the parallel process to deliver on issues that matter to local people.
The SDLP MLA says City Deals are “fundamental to addressing regional disparity.”
Mr Durkan said: “The failure of the DUP and Sinn Fein to meet yesterday’s deadline will rightly, be met with anger and frustration.
“People here want power sharing to work, they want power to be in local people’s hands, we need to ensure that happens over the next few days.
“The SDLP has worked tirelessly and constructively to restore our institutions.
“While we too are frustrated, we know there is a job to do and it’s imperative that all parties get on with that.
“Our views on the issues that have become sticking points in the process are well documented and well known by all the political parties.
“On those issues we continue to stand our ground and work constructively to reach a resolution.
“However, as the stalemate between the ‘big two’ continues, the SDLP will not be found wanting on working in a parallel process to ensure that all parties are engaged with the issues we need under consideration in these talks.
“One of many of the issues we have raised, is the need to address regional disparity. As many in my own constituency of Foyle will know, the failure of the last Executive to address the stark inequalities and lack of investment in the West is unacceptable.
“We have over the course of the talks, presented our views that the development and implementation of City Deal projects for Northern Ireland are fundamental to addressing regional disparity.
“City Deals could be used initially, but not limited to, increase investment in third level education, to expand the Ulster University Magee campus and increase in the number of third level education places for local students studying in Northern Ireland and an increase in investment for apprenticeships.
“The SDLP have also pressed that the A6 and A5 projects are also prioritised as part of any package of investment through City Deals.
“If parties truly are committed to delivering an inclusive Executive, now they must seriously address the views of the SDLP to map a way forward to deliver a new politics,” added Mr Durkan.