I am absolutely delighted to announce a major UK Government investment package of £105 million to the Derry-Londonderry region.
On my frequent visits to the city, it has been made clear to me how important the City Deal is to the people who live, work and do business here.
I am pleased to be able to announce £50 million of funding for the City Deal, along with a new £55 million Inclusive Future Fund.
This new investment reflects the UK Government’s commitment to boosting the economic growth of the region and supporting a more united and stronger society.
The £50 million for the Derry and Strabane City Deal will help equip the city with cutting-edge innovation and boost the digital potential of the region.
This will enable new and exciting projects such as a Centre for Industrial Digitisation, Robotics and Automation; and a programme of digital and smart cities interventions.
It will also help attract inward investment and unlock local partner funding.
The City Deal will be bolstered by a new £55m Inclusive Future Fund aimed at bringing greater prosperity and social benefits to the whole of the community.
The new Fund aims to combat the additional and unique challenges faced by the region, which have hampered economic growth and prosperity.
The Fund will enable investment in projects such as supporting young people by providing jobs and skills opportunities and tackling the causes and consequences of long-term social deprivation.
By working in partnership with local politicians and the Derry and Strabane District Council, the UK Government aims to foster prosperity, thereby promoting greater stability and peace in the region.
The recent unrest in Derry-Londonderry, which culminated in the tragic death of journalist Lyra McKee, highlights the urgency of this aim.
The outpouring of condemnation in the wake of Lyra’s untimely death also illustrates the community’s hunger for change.
I hope that the funding announced today will function as one of the building blocks to foster hope for a brighter future.
The new funding aims to build on the work of the previous Executive, which invested in the economic, cultural and social regeneration of the area.
As with the previous announcement of a Belfast Regional City Deal and to ensure a successfully integrated programme of investment for the North West, it requires a fully-functioning devolved government in place.
The UK Government believes that the restoration of the Executive is vital to ensure sustainable, long-term economic growth and stability for all communities in the North West and across Northern Ireland.
That is why I and the Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, have called formal political talks, commencing today in Belfast. The UK and Irish Governments have been clear that we will do everything in our power to make these talks a success, but we cannot do it alone.
We also need Northern Ireland’s political leadership to do everything they can to ensure we emerge with an agreement to restore the Executive.
All of us can take inspiration from what Lyra McKee achieved in her life and work even harder to make the North West and the whole of Northern Ireland a brighter and more peaceful place for everyone.