‘We should have City Deal and ETI Zone’

SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan speaking at Westminster.

SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan speaking at Westminster.

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SDLP MP Mark Durkan has accused the outgoing Executive of a “dereliction of initiative and responsibility” in failing to secure a City Deal for Londonderry and ensure a new Enterprise Zone was established in the city rather than Coleraine.

He said the recent United Kingdom-wide budget did little for Northern Ireland.

“I must decry the fact that Northern Ireland gets very little out of the Budget, although that is not all the fault of Ministers,” he said.

“A lot of it is the fault of a dereliction of initiative and responsibility on the part of our own devolved Executive. They have not made the case for city deals in Northern Ireland. They have certainly refused for a very long time to make the case for a city deal for Derry, pretending instead that city deals were for England, which did not have devolution.

“That completely ignored the fact that much work on city deals has been done in Scotland and Wales. Some of them are represented in the Budget. I know that the city deals, in terms of the northern powerhouse, are not all necessarily what the Chancellor puffs them up to be, but they are initiatives worth pursuing, and we in Northern Ireland have been left out of them,” said Mr Durkan.

Mr Durkan welcomed a proposed new air ambulance for Northern Ireland but said an Enterprise Zone for Coleraine should have been situated in Londonderry.

“As for what is in the Budget for Northern Ireland, I welcome the spending for the air ambulance coming from the LIBOR fines. I and others had lobbied for that,” said Mr Durkan.

“Billed as a big gain for us are the enhanced capital allowances for an enterprise zone in Coleraine - a zone that should have been in Derry, which is the place of the highest unemployment.

“It is intended that Coleraine ​can benefit from Project Kelvin - a project that was initially meant to benefit Derry in the first place and other places on both sides of the border. This has happened courtesy of a letter from the First Minister and the deputy First Minister to the Chancellor before the 2014 Budget, asking for that enterprise zone so that Coleraine could benefit from Project Kelvin,” he claimed.