United call from Derry politicians to dissidents

Elected representatives from all political parties in Derry have issued a united call to dissident republicans to end their armed campaigns in 2011.

In an unusual step, politicians from the SDLP, Sinn Fin, the DUP, UUP, and Alliance Party, released a joint statement calling on the various armed groups active in the city to lay down their weapons.

The politicians said the main task for the year ahead is to build a better city. "As the political leaders of the city we see a future where there is a role for everyone who wants to make a positive contribution to making this a better place," they said.

In a direct appeal to dissident republicans, the leaders said: "We are making a genuine and heartfelt appeal to those who use or support the use of violence to put away your weapons and join with us in making this a better city for all.

"This is not to oppose people's right to pursue different and diverse political goals. However, such goals must be achieved by peaceful and democratic means. Any attack against any part of the city and region or against any person or people in or of the area is an attack against the interests of everyone and against the future wellbeing of this city and its people."

They also appealed to everyone in the city to work together in the year ahead. "Irrespective of political differences, 2011 will be the year we commit to working together towards a new era of hope and prosperity for the future. We invite every citizen to work with us to create the conditions for a shared city life in this culturally vibrant city," the statement said.

The politicians also said co-operation between all the traditions in the city will help combat disadvantage.

"In this new year of 2011 we as political representatives in this city will work towards a positive future for the shared interests, hopes and aspirations of the people of this our city. We will work with others to build a civic leadership that shifts us away from the divisions of the past towards a new era of, co-operation, mutual respect, hope and prosperity for all future generations. We will work collectively to address the needs of those most socially disadvantaged and suffering poverty within our city and region," they said.