Stormont ‘needs’ to invest in NW

Philip Gilliland, President, Derry Chamber of Commerce.
Philip Gilliland, President, Derry Chamber of Commerce.

Derry Chamber of Commerce president Philip Gilliland says the Stormont Executive needs to invest in the region to allow the economy to grow.

Mr. Gilliland, who made his comments at the Chamber’s AGM on Wednesday night, said he would continue to “make the case for the North West both loudly and eloquently.”

He added: “We try to avoid complaining, but we are unapologetic in explaining that the Executive needs to support local enterprise and innovation in the North West by investing in our region to enable our economy to grow.

“In that way, our economy strengthens, unemployment reduces and tax revenues increase, benefiting both the Executive and the UK Government.

“It is for these reasons that the Chamber has actively campaigned for those investments that will generate the strongest returns for the North West and for Northern Ireland. These are the substantial expansion of the University of Ulster’s Magee campus, the upgrading of the A6 to appropriate inter-city standard and improvements to the Derry-Belfast rail line. It goes without saying that we also support ministers continued efforts to get the improved A5 built.”

He said investments such as the Peace Bridge, the Guildhall renovation, and the first stage in the upgrade of the rail line have made Derry “feel like a different city”.

“In fact, our city has become a different city,” he added. “I am very proud that the Chamber has played a significant role in making our city a better place.”

Chamber chief executive Sinead McLaughlin told the AGM that its membership had increased and that it had increased its political influence and strengthened its public profile.

“Just as important, the Chamber has spoken with a powerful voice,” she added. “We do that by meeting privately with the most influential people in Northern Ireland - which means both the devolved ministers and the Secretary of State. We thank them for their willingness to meet with us and to listen to us.”