The incumbent MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan of the SDLP has tonight been again ratified as the party’s candidate for the 2015, British General Election.
Speaking at the selection convention held this evening Mr Durkan said his placement as the party’s candidate was both an ‘an honour and a challenge.’
“I am honoured to have been chosen by the activists of the SDLP in the Foyle constituency 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 be standing before the people of this constituency on the basis of my track record since they elected me as their Member of Parliament in 2005 and earlier. I will also be setting out my vision for our city’s future – for the economic prosperity, social solidarity and cultural vitality we all deserve.
“The people of Derry need a strong voice and effective representation using the Westminster seat there and elsewhere. I give you my promise – I will continue to be a champion for this city’s best interests and work tirelessly to fulfil Derry’s potential as the best place in Ireland to live in, work in or visit.
“In the run up to this election the SDLP will be setting out our range of positive ideas for building a better city and a better Ireland. This will not only be about choices for the next five years decided in Westminster, but a judgment on the DUP-Sinn Fein regime here which has left people disappointed and disillusioned. This Executive has been weak on policy, lacking in priorities and poor on performance.
“Over the past 10 years, I have been able to use my role as local MP including to secure compensation for the Desmonds pension scheme members, as a strong voice in the House of Commons for the Bloody Sunday families when the Saville Report was published, and in the last year instigating 333 new jobs for Derry at EE’s brand launch in Westminster.
“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 Integrated Development Fund that delivered positive investments such as Skeoge Business Park, the Walled City Tourism Project and the Robotics Centre at Magee.
“As well as campaigning on the economic front for a new ‘City Deal’ and cross-border enterprise zone for Derry at Westminster, I have also stood strong on international, human rights and environmental standards.
“On the health front, I have championed a new focus on ovarian cancer and led a parliamentary campaign to see the introduction of the Meningitis B vaccine for all babies on the NHS.
“I have also been one of the few MPs to vote against welfare reform at all stages. Indeed, 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.
“I will use the MP seat to lobby and campaign hard on the issues that matter to the people of Derry in Westminster, Dublin and elsewhere. Some particular priorities will include fighting for more, better paid, highly skilled jobs; pushing for expansion at Magee; working for growth in our digital economy and tourism in order to capitalise further on the success of the City of Culture year; and lobbying for promised investment in the A5, A6 and our rail line.
“As MP for Foyle, I will also continue to work hard on tackling local issues affecting people in Derry, whether it is protecting and investing in our vital public services or championing more social and affordable housing.
“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.”