a specialist unit to source European funding for Derry will be in place by the end of the summer, Derry City Council have confirmed.
Sharon O’Connor, chief executive of Derry City Council, made the announcement at a meeting of Council’s development committee this week.
She was responding to a question from Sinn Féin councillor Maeve McLaughlin, who has been calling for the establishment of such a unit for some time.
Belfast City Council already has a dedicated unit to source funding for external sources, primarily Europe, and colr. McLaughlin has argued that Derry is missing out on millions of pounds by not establishing a specialised funding unit.
At the meeting, colr. McLaughlin asked if there was time frame for when the unit would be set up in Derry.
Ms O’Connor said she hoped the external funding unit would be in place shortly. “Recruitment is underway,” she said. “I would like to think that by the end of the summer we would have the external funding unit established and properly funded.”
Colr. McLaughlin welcomed the news and said she hoped the unit will be in place as soon as possible.
“I’m glad to see this is progressing, The longer we wait the more opportunities to source funding we are missing and we can’t afford to do that. Hopefully this will be set up as soon as possible and we can start to see the benefits of it,” she said.
Since the external funding unit was established in Belfast a number of years ago, it is estimated that Belfast City Council has secured over £13 million from Europe to add to its coffers.
Foyle MLA Martina Anderson, who is likely to replace Bairbre de Brún in the European Parliament, has also said there are many opportunities for funding in Europe which Derry is missing out on because of the absence of a dedicated team to source funds. She welcomed the news that the unit is to be established by Derry City Council and said it would help Derry’s regeneration plans.