Eastwood secures commitment from British Government to Derry City Deal
“I frankly expressed to James Brokenshire this city’s very real anger in the aftermath of the budget that Belfast was once more prioritised and Derry again overlooked.
“I am glad to say that the depth of that anger, and the subsequent pressure applied by the SDLP, does seem to be having the right effect.
“At the meeting on Monday, the Secretary of State gave his commitment that the British Government were now in favour of a City Deal in Derry. He told me plainly that he was up for a City Deal in Derry.
“Naturally, we’ll not be taking this positive sentiment from the Secretary of State as a guarantee. The SDLP will be holding the British Government’s feet to the fire to make sure that a City Deal for Derry is now fully delivered.
“We all know that too many promises have been made in the past only for them to be broken. In recent years those broken promises belonged as much to the local governments led by the DUP and Sinn Féin as they did to successive British Governments.
“Currently, the SDLP is working to arrange a meeting to the City for the Secretary of State to get a City Deal moving. Earlier this week the SDLP also met with the Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie, who assured us that the council was ready to advance their Growth Plan which is blueprint for a Derry City deal.
“The SDLP believes that a City Deal offers the best economic tool to lever in monies so that we can finally expand our university, fully upgrade our roads and invest in our young people. That need for major economic intervention in our city has become all the more urgent with the threat of Brexit.
“It’s time to finally end the old pattern whereby Derry is always at the heart of Ireland’s history but at the fringe of its economic expansion. A City Deal for Derry will prove a big help in changing the economic fundamentals, which have held the potential of this city, back for so long. It’s time Derry got its fair share.”