Sinn Féin has unanimously backed a ‘bespoke City Deal’ being awarded to Derry and the north west during the party’s Ard Fheis in Belfast.
Party representatives and activists from across Ireland voted in favour for the Derry deal being treated on a par to the already confirmed Belfast City Deal.
Sinn Féin group leader on Derry City and Strabane District Council, Sandra Duffy, told those gathered at the Waterfront Hall that one of the main priorities for the region was to bring economic growth “and to deliver this we have produced an Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan for the entire City Region.
“This plan has the potential to bring about a step change in economic performance and address decades of regional imbalances and blatant discrimination west of the Bann,” Colr. Duffy said.
“We have recognised that City Deals are the vehicle that we can use to bring us the best opportunity to deliver this economic turnaround and ensure maximum impact for our communities and on that basis we are keen to open up negotiations with the British Government.”
Colr. Duffy said that while the British Government had formally committed to a City Deal for Belfast, it has still not given any formal commitment to a deal for the North West.
“When the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, has been challenged on this and asked why there was a formal commitment to Belfast and not to the North West, she said that the Belfast deal was more advanced . . . the opposite was true!
“When this was pointed out to Karen Bradley she then said that you needed a population of over one million, but wait... Aberdeen has a City Deal, population half a million, Inverness has a City Deal, population 234,000.
“When we look at the North West City Region, which includes Donegal, we are talking about a population of 350,000.”
Colr. Duffy said Foyle MP , Elisha McCallion, had raised a City Deal at all levels including during meetings with Teresa May and Karen Bradley.
She added: “We are fully supportive of Belfast’s City Deal, but we truly believe it is time to undo decades of regional disparity; it is time for equality for our citizens in the North West.
“It is time to dispense with the excuses; it is time that the British Government formally committed to a City Deal for the North West.”