Economy Minister Simon Hamilton says it’s out of his gift to secure a ‘City Deal’ to regenerate Derry but that the Stormont Executive as a whole may be able to decide on such an approach if there is agreement.
The Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan asked the Minister for his “assessment of the benefits of City Deals; and whether he will work with his Executive colleagues to obtain a City Deal for Derry.”
Mr Durkan’s uncle and namesake Foyle MP Mark Durkan has been a champion of a ‘City Deal’ for Derry, which he believes would help address regional inequalities and disparities.
And a year ago the Labour Party-commissioned Heenan-Anderson Commission, co-chaired by Professor Deirdre Heenan, also recommended: “Consideration should be given to developing a City Deal in Derry-Londonderry to address regional inequalities and disparities.”
But while these prominent voices have been calling for the roll-out of City Deals here, to date, they have only been earmarked for locations on the other side of the Irish Sea.
Mr Hamilton said: “The UK Government’s City Deals initiative is aimed at providing a number of cities in England and Scotland with greater control in relation to decisions that affect their area.”
The Minister added: “This is not a matter for my Department and it would be for the Executive as a whole to decide on the merits of pursuing such an approach for cities in Northern Ireland.”
Arguing for a City Deal for Derry last year, Foyle MP Mark Durkan argued: “Essentially City Deals have been a way of the London based politicians responding to the frustrations they hear from the English regions and regional cities, that everything favours London and the South East, that they are not getting enough delivery in their own place and their own region, being able to drive their own economy and City Deals’ have been an effort towards, I suppose, devolving capacity to cities in England.”