Roads and airport plea

Business leaders in Derry have appealed for urgent upgrade work on the Derry Belfast road link.

The city’s chamber of commerce made the plea along with calls for support from the Executive for City of Derry Airport to be a “regional asset” to ease the burden on Derry ratepayers.

The chamber has also urged the Executive to take more effective action on education including the substantial expansion of Magee and improvement programmes for underperforming primary and post-primary schools.

“We are pleased that the Executive is taking action to improve the economy – the upgrades of the A5 and the A2 and resolving outstanding planning applications are to be strongly welcomed,” Padraig Canavan, President of the Chamber said. “But much more needs to be done to enable the North West to thrive economically.

“We need even more infrastructure spending and a more effective focus on providing the right skills in our region.” Mr Canavan made the comments in response to the publication of the draft Programme for Government (PFG), draft Economic Strategy and draft Investment Strategy.

Following the publication of the PFG, Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood said the finalised programme must be unwavering in its intention to implement Derry’s ‘One Plan’ and the funding of next year’s City of Culture.

Mr Eastwood said it was a welcome development that both the ‘One Plan’ and the City of Culture were eventually referred to in the draft PFG but emphasised that people in the city needed to be shown ‘the colour of the Executive’s money’. “Much of the North’s politics has over many years been characterised by ambiguity, an ambiguity at times necessary because of the need to reach a peaceful, political accommodation.

“We are now in a different place. The embedded stability of the devolved institutions demands that government move away from this way of doing business.

“It is imperative that Stormont provides governmental clarity.

“The finalised PFG must mark the start of this process’.