‘One Plan becoming obsolete as young see no future in Derry’

Darren O'Reilly. DER2314-114KM
Darren O'Reilly. DER2314-114KM
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A Derry Councillor has warned that local people are facing an increasingly hopeless situation that needs to be addressed through a new strategy.

Darren O’Reilly was speaking as he gave a damning assessment of the progress on the delivery of the One Plan.

The plan was compiled by Ilex and various partners, with input from hundreds of experts across all sectors and stratums of society in Derry. It was launched in 2011.

Among its central pledges were to deliver 12,900 new jobs and double full-time student numbers to around 9,400 by 2020, while lifting thousands out of poverty.

Speaking after it emerged that Derry remains the unemployment capital of the UK, Mr O’Reilly said: “We’re three years into the One Plan and nothing has materialised.

“I believe the disconnect between the council and Stormont is massive and that nothing seems to be filtering down into Derry. My ward specifically has been hit the hardest. You just have to look at the derelict factories, the derelict office blocks. The Magee expansion is another one we have been let down by. There was a proposed £80m health centre for the Creggan Burn development that was pulled off the shelf. We have the infrastructural delays, A5 and A6. People on the ground are just totally disenfranchised.”

Mr O’Reilly- a youth worker in Rosemount- said he should not have to go into schools to teach young people about signing on and debt management, instead of laying out opportunities: “We are getting jobs coming in in drips and drabs and nothing we can plan our future from, and all the talented young people are leaving. As a youth worker most of the consultation we have carried out asking young people where do you see yourself in five year. I would say a good 80% of them say ‘not in Derry’. This is worrying and sad.”

He added that the City of Culture has proved a false Messiah in terms of job creation, adding that the merger with Strabane needed to be factored in going forward: “We can’t be going any further. If time is up, and we can’t do it then we need to put our hands up and say it is not working, and we need to put measures in place to make it work.”

An Ilex spokeswoman however said that successes to date include 672 additional MaSN student places at Magee, with a business case for greater expansion being submitted next month; development of the £11.5m C-TRIC facility in Derry; €14 million secured for the North West Regional Science Park; over £30 million from NI Executive and Derry City Council in support of the City of Culture, Phase One of the railway relay, £3.3 million secured for a Community Work Programme and £2.2m for an Urban Broadband Super Connected City Fund (£2.2million) and the creation of the creative hub at Ebrington.

She added that jobs “promoted” targets have been met.