SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan, has called on the NI Executive to work with him on delivering a ‘City Deal’ for Derry.
Mr. Durkan hosted a special breakfast seminar on the concept of a ‘City Deal’ in the City Hotel on Friday morning.
The event was chaired by SDLP MLA for Foyle, Colum Eastwood. The panel included Mark Durkan MP, former Derry Chamber of Commerce President, Philip Gilliland, Professor Deirdre Heenan and Derry based finance and economics journalist, Paul Gosling.
The seminar was attended by local business men and women.
The event is the second such meeting to be hosted by Mark Durkan this year.
A ‘City Deal’ is an agreement between a particular city and the Treasury in London. A ‘City Deal’ will differ between cities and regions.
Glasgow has recently entered into a ‘City Deal’ with the Treasury, The deal will see the U.K. government invest £500m in Glasgow over a 20 year period with the Scottish Assembly investing the same amount. Local councils in the area are expected to invest a further £130m.
It is predicted that Glasgow’s ‘City Deal’ will result in 15,000 construction jobs and 28,000 permanent jobs once various construction projects are completed. It also predicted that the completed deal will unlock £3.3bn of private sector investment.
“I firmly believe a ‘City Deal’ tailored to our own specific purposes in Derry would help us grow into the future and work,” said Mr. Durkan at the event.
“However, I think the day is coming that the ‘City Deal’ idea, that has been pooh poohed by certain corners, will end up going elsewhere in the North,” he added.
The SDLP has already received support from Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) to explore a ‘City Deal’ after Councillor Martin Reilly had a motion passed earlier this year.
“The ‘City Deal’ needs the back of the Executive if it is to become reality,” said Mr. Durkan.
“It’s fantastic that DCSDC has agreed to explore the idea of ‘City Deal’ but we need the support of the Executive.
“I have been told that the Department of Finance and Personnel are talking to Belfast City Council about a ‘City Deal’ for Belfast, if Derry misses out it would be an opportunity missed,” he added.
Former Derry Chamber of Commerce President, Philip Gilliland, hinted at the idea of Derry entering into a ‘City Deal’ along with Belfast whilst Derry based finance and economics journalist said no political party should sign up to a future programme for government at Stormont unless it promises to tackle the “geographic discrimination” of the North West.
Professor Deirdre Heenan, from the University of Ulster, said she believed a ‘City Deal’ for Derry was a “once in a generation opportunity”.