The failure of a transformative cross-border environmental regeneration project spanning the River Foyle to secure European peace funding has been met with disappointment in the North West.
However, members of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, believe it will be possible to reapply to the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) for share of €53m in PEACE IV monies to progress their joint 'Riverine Project'.
The scheme, which will traverse the Foyle near its source at the confluence of the rivers Finn and Mourne, is designed to create a significant new cross border community asset for Strabane and Lifford.
In a joint statement issued on behalf of the Sinn Féin groupings on DC&SDC and DCC, Donegal Colr. Gary Doherty and Strabane Colr. Brian McMahon, said: “The news that the Riverine Project has fallen just short of the SEUPB funding threshold is deeply disappointing to say the least especially given the amount of effort that has been put into this by elected reps and council officials from both Donegal and Derry/Strabane councils and given that such an impressive and comprehensive application had been submitted.
“However, despite this setback we are still strongly hopeful that the Project can still be secured.
“Most other projects that similarly made it through Stage Two of the process were also unsuccessful at this juncture but given Riverine was so well pointed in the process and given that the vast bulk of the €53m in this traunch of funding still remains to be allocated, we are still confident that we can get this project over the line when it is put out for a ‘fresh call’ in a short time-framed period ahead.
“This visionary cross border project must proceed as it will totally transform the amenity between Strabane and Lifford. Every effort must now be made and we must all work together collectively to get it over the line."
Last year the then Mayor Hilary McClintock, stated: "The proposed Riverine concept plans comprise 47 acres covering two currently unused open natural spaces, including a partially covered outdoor public events space, community building and a world class play experience, radiating out into shared parkland featuring walkways, river access and parking.
"If taken to the next stage the area will also benefit from greatly enhanced infrastructure with a new cross-border greenway network connecting Lifford and Strabane as well as a cross border pedestrian bridge linking the towns.
"The space will span either side of the banks of the River Foyle in Lifford and Strabane which will be interconnected by a community footbridge."