Ill-tempered to-and-fro over Donegal

SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner.
SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner.

There were ill-tempered exchanges when an SDLP councillor claimed Sinn Féin’s insistence on a cross-border element could “sabotage” the City Deal bid.

SDLP Councillor, Tina Gardiner, said she was concerned at Sinn Féin’s “constantly mentioning Donegal” whenever it was discussed.

She was speaking during a meeting of the Council’s Governance & Strategic Plannind Committee when details of the city’s Vision and Outline Bid Proposal were unveiled.

Sinn Féin Colr. Mickey Cooper insisted the City Deal was only one aspect of the region’s Strategic Growth Plan, which, he said, had a strong cross-border element.

Colr. Cooper said it was important pressure was kept up on the “Free State government” to deliver on its promises on the A5, which is a central part of the SGP.

But Colr. Gardiner said she was concerned at Colr. Cooper’s comments and argued the “constant mention of Donegal” had the potential to “sabotage” the bid.

She said the Council and its partners were applying to the British Treasury for a NI-based initiative.

Colr. Cooper said Colr. Gardiner’s comments “sounded like something you would hear from an ultra hard line unionist, not a party that is supposed to be cross-border.”

After the exchange played out on breakfast radio on Wednesday both Colr. Gardiner and Colr. Cooper issued statements.

Colr. Gardiner said: “A City Deal for Derry will mean a thriving Derry. However, a thriving Derry in isolation is impossible, rather our neighbours in places like Donegal, Strabane and Limavady, are set to be beneficiaries.”

Colr. Cooper said: “It is highly disappointing that recently some in the SDLP locally seem to be deviating from the Strategic Growth Plan and the ambition to realise the full potential of the NW Region of Ireland.”