City Deal for Derry & Strabane could help Magee expansion

Prime Minister Theresa May stands with First Secretary of State Damian Green (right), DUP leader Arlene Foster (second left), DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds (left), as DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (third right) shakes hands with Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, and Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, inside 10 Downing Street, London, after the DUP agreed a deal to support the minority Conservative government
Prime Minister Theresa May stands with First Secretary of State Damian Green (right), DUP leader Arlene Foster (second left), DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds (left), as DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (third right) shakes hands with Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, and Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, inside 10 Downing Street, London, after the DUP agreed a deal to support the minority Conservative government
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Derry’s Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the additional money promised for Northern Ireland and in particular the prospect of a ‘City Deal’ for Derry City and Strabane.

The move comes after an investment deal worth £1.5bn for the north was secured on Monday in exchange for the DUP supporting the Conservative party in government at Westminster.

The funding package includes an additional £400m for infrastructure over the next two years.

Commitment to work on City Deals and Enterprise Zones in Northern Ireland have also been given by the Conservative party.

Local Assembly political representatives in Derry have vowed to ensure that Derry’s case is heard in relation to this, with DUP MLA Gary Middleton and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood both stating that this would help ensure the A5 and A6 projects are developed , while the expansion of Magee could also be advanced.

Other parts of the funding agreed will go towards health, mental health services, education and broadband initiatives.

Speaking after the announcement this week, Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sinead McLaughlin said: “A City Deal for the Derry City and Strabane Council area could be extremely good news for the city and region.

“While this idea was not specifically included in the Government’s agreement with the DUP, support for ‘city deals’ in the plural provides a hint that Derry could receive the designation, separately from Belfast.

“This might create opportunities for Derry City and Strabane Council to move forward with key economic projects, especially the substantial expansion of the Magee campus.

“It might also give the city and region more say over key road infrastructure and ensuring that all local schools are supported in the process of raising employment relevant skills.”

Additional funding for development must include the north west, the Chamber has argued.

Sinead McLaughlin said: “We welcome also the additional funding for Northern Ireland infrastructure. While we recognise the traffic pressure at York Street in Belfast, we remain strongly committed to what we regard as the two most important and pressing infrastructure projects, which are the roads between Belfast and Derry and that between Derry and Dublin. We would be extremely unhappy if both those projects were now sidelined or downgraded in importance.”