Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion told the party Ard Fheis at the weekend that Derry is a young and vibrant city on the cusp of realising its full potential.
The outgoing MP for Foyle who is the party’s candidate in next month’s general election said: “Once Ireland’s capital of injustice, where the majority were denied the vote, and where the demand for civil rights was met with state brutality and massacre, today Derry is a different place.
“A confident, vibrant, youthful city, bursting with talent, energy and potential.
“In Derry, we are building the future.
“As the local MP I have been honoured to lead the agenda for positive change for over two years now.
“With the people of Derry, the Irish Government and the European Union, we are delivering investment, jobs and infrastructure through the City Deal and Inclusive Growth Strategy.”
Mrs. McCallion told delegates gathered for the Sinn Féin annual conference in the Millennium Forum in Derry that she recognised that major political, social and economic challenges lay ahead.
She promised to “make Derry’s voice heard where it counts” and to “protect Derry from the worst of Brexit and prevent any hardening of the British border”.
The former mayor pledged that she would continue to work to secure well paid jobs and further national and international investment.
Derry needs to continue to be developed as the capital of Ireland’s North West region with the expansion of Magee College and the delivery of a Graduate Entry Medical School key priorities, she said.
The North’s imminent departure from the European Union, however, represented “our greatest challenge,” she said.
“Throughout the Brexit negotiations Sinn Féin stood firmly and consistently against the destructive agenda of the Tories and the DUP.
“We ensured that the Irish Government, the EU and US, prioritised Ireland’s needs.
“Sinn Féin prioritised protection of the Good Friday Agreement. We ensured no hardening of the British border and blocked a unionist veto.
“Sinn Féin’s influence and hard work on behalf of the Irish people delivered all this.
“In stark contrast, the Westminster circus has delivered nothing but political chaos,” she said.
The Foyle candidate reemphasised her abstentionist stance and said Sinn Féin had no intention of resiling from a position it has held for over a century.
She said that the Westminster parliament would inevitably represent the interests of the 38,371,414 English parliamentary electors that were recorded on the electoral register last year and not the interests of the 1,248,420 people in the North who were registered to vote.
“Brexit has exposed, in the clearest way yet, that Westminster is the source of Ireland’s problems, not the solution to any them.
“Ireland’s interests never have and never will be served by Westminster.
“Westminster and Partition have failed. They are the past. A new, inclusive, outward looking, prosperous and united Ireland is the future.
“Sinn Féin is about building that future. Let’s build that future together.”