Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore believes Derry has “shown the way” when it comes to cross community dialogue in the North of Ireland.
The leader of the Labour Party spent yesterday and Friday meeting with various politicians and local community groups in the city and said he looked forward to working with the people of the city to help it to achieve sufficient investment.
“I think Derry has shown the way as to how you deal with problems around parades and around flags,” the Tánaiste told the ‘Sunday Journal ‘yesterday.
“I think Derry has shown the way in terms of respect and it’s all about discussion and showing respect - that’s essentially what the Good Friday Agreement was about. It’s about both traditions being able to celebrate their tradition and in a way that respects the views of others.
“In that context, I want to welcome the statement that was made by Peter Robinson at the GAA function this week and commend the work that both he and Martin McGuinness are doing. The Irish Government will continue to support that work.”
The Tánaiste gave the keynote address at the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce dinner on Friday evening.
Mr. Gilmore met with Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford and District Commander Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin at Strand Road PSNI station yesterday morning before meeting with the Unity of Purpose group in Creggan.
The Tánaiste also visited the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in Society Street and the Shirt Factory Museum before meeting Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
“The immediate purpose of my visit was to attend the Chamber of Commerce dinner in the city on Friday. I was very honoured to be asked to give the keynote address at the dinner last night and my speech was largely around the business opportunities that I think there are here.
“Derry is a model city and I think this year in particular as the year of culture it has shown the way. It has been a fabulous year for the city and it has shown on three levels - great strengths on its reputation, its location and its ability to look outward and finally its people.
“I think what we need to see going forward now is the building on that platform now and I think in that context there is a common North/South interest.
“We need to look at this region because there is a high level of unemployment, need for investment, need for more jobs and we have to work collectively on a North/South basis to deliver that.
He added: “I am certainly very willing to work with the city of Derry and its people. I met with the Unity of Purpose group this morning and they are made up of leaders from right across the community and we will work with them to see progress made in this region which in turn will deliver the jobs and investments which will improve the local economy.”