Durkan looking forward to campaign

Mark Durkan addresses the Westminster selection convention audience at the Playhouse on Wednesday night.
Mark Durkan addresses the Westminster selection convention audience at the Playhouse on Wednesday night.

The incumbent Westminster representative for Foyle, Mark Durkan says he is “looking forward” to the forthcoming British General Election campaign having been selected unopposed as the SDLP candidate on Wednesday night.

Speaking to the Journal Mr Durkan said he envisaged a “tough campaign” to retain the seat. At this stage he faces a single opponent in the form of the Sinn Fein candidate Gerry O’Hara.

“I have always billed Foyle as a tight fight, but I will be going to the people with a strong record of representation on issues that affect them both directly and indirectly,” he said.

In his address to the convention the MP said: “I am honoured to have been chosen by the activists of the SDLP in the Foyle consituency to be the party’s candidate for the 2015 Westminster Election. I have served proudly as a cross-community MP while reflecting the principles of our party. I will also be setting out my vision for our city’s future-for the economic prosperity, social solidarity and cultural vitality we all desrve.”

Speaking to the Journal, Mr Durkan said that he will press for a ‘city deal’ at Westminster to specifically address the economic difficulties the Derry continues to experience. The SDLP man said he will seek a deal akin to that currently ongoing in Glasgow. And, he says, he is concious in the wake of the Scottish referendum for independence if the push throughout England and Wales as well for greater powers of devolution especially with regard to greater control of fiscal powers.

He said: “My broader track record is clear. I am particularly proud of having negotiated the transfer of Ebrington and Fort George for the people of Derry, delivering funding for the South Wing extension at Altnagelvin and of having secured the Intergrated Development Fund that delivered positive investments such as Skeoge Business Park, the Walled City Tourism Project and the Robotics Centre at Magee.”

Mr Durkan also stipulated that he is one of a few MPs at Westminster who has voted against welfare reform at all stages.

“Westminster is where major decisions are made affecting social security benefits, the spending powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the economic prospects of the North.

“With more public spending cuts coming, people here will need local MPs arguing strongly for our local and regional interests. The SDLP is planning a strong grassroots campaign so that we secure the votes we need to continue to serve the people of this city through challenging times to better prospects.”