In Derry and right across the North people are finding it harder and harder to heat their homes, to put food on the table and petrol in their cars.
Our health service waiting lists are only getting longer, people with conditions as serious as cancer, patients in life and death situations are being made to wait for vital treatment.
The civil rights movement started over 50 years ago and still families are unable to access social and affordable housing. Our education system is failing our young people, they aren’t reaching their potential and many are choosing to leave their hometown, their family and friends, in search of better things. We still have a dearth of well-paying jobs and far too many people aren’t being paid fairly for an honest day’s work. People in this city deserve better. They deserve better than having to put on a winter coat to keep warm in their home and they deserve better than having to skip meals so that their children can eat. Derry is sick, sore and tired of the same old excuses, fed up with being told this is as good as it gets. We have a chance for real change on May 5, but we have to grasp it, people need to get out and vote so they don’t find themselves sitting at home in a few weeks or months’ time complaining about how nothing is different.
Two parties have dominated our Executive for the past 15 years and who in Derry could genuinely say that their life is any better as a result. We have done what we can to improve people’s lives, but it’s increasingly difficult when you are dealing with two parties who have carved the place up and care for nobody but themselves. Despite that frustration the SDLP has plenty to be proud of. We ensured that New Decade, New Approach included a commitment for a minimum 10,000 university places in Derry and we’ll keep pushing everyday until that vision is realised. Our efforts delivered Magee Medical School and a city deal and we have the plans to address the cost of living, health and housing crises that are impacting our communities. Just recently our councillors voted against a rates increase for hard pressed families in our city, while other councillors, who shout about protecting workers, didn’t even bother to show up. In her role as Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has made huge efforts to help people in our community.
Alongside freezing public transport fares, she has led the way in tackling the climate crisis and ensured Derry would be one of the first places on this island with a zero emission bus fleet. She has brought the A6 road project near to completion and has literally got the Derry to Coleraine rail line upgrade back on track. The SDLP has always been on the side of people in Derry.