Derry Chamber of Commerce President, Jennifer McKeever, has welcomed the Irish Government’s commitment in its National Development Plan to invest in the North West as a city region.
Mrs. McKeever said placing the North West city region of Derry, Strabane and Letterkenny at the centre of Irish government policy for the first time is a “very welcome statement of intent” by Dublin.
“The Irish Government’s desire to work together with Northern Ireland for economic advantage, to co-ordinate infrastructure investment and manage our shared environment is good news for our city region,” she said. “The document’s assertion that by ‘working together we can realise the full potential of the North West’ is something that business people in this region have always believed. We are certainly stronger working together now to ensure the resilience of the North West economy in the face of Brexit”
Mrs McKeever added: “Dublin’s commitment to ‘participation’ in the further development of the A5 project is particularly welcome news. It is now important that politicians north of the border can also participate in overseeing this project - and others so vital to our economy - by restoring the Northern Ireland Executive and getting back to work.”
Sinn Féin Foyle MP Elisha McCallion, meanwhile, cautioned that the National Planning Framework must deliver on the economic needs of the North West of Ireland.
She said: “Sinn Féin will be carefully analysing the Irish Government’s National Planning Framework (NPF) over the coming days and a considered response will be delivered in the Dáil next week.
“However initial impressions indicate that the north of Ireland is merely an add-on to the economic and infrastructural priorities of the Irish government identified in the NPF.
“The greater Dublin area appears to be the focus once again, leaving the gaping regional imbalance between the North West region, in which Derry city is a major hub of activity and population, unaddressed.
“The economic potential of Derry city, as an integral part of a wider strategy for the North West, has not yet been realised.
“Without Irish Government support and the possibility of British Government contributions to Derry’s Strategic Growth Plan, which we continue to explore, the longstanding regional imbalances, deprivation and economic deficiencies of the North West will remain unaddressed.
“The Irish Government must bring an end to Dublin-centric planning and support the economic activity of North West.”