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North West Gateway Initiative must begin to deliver for Strabane and Donegal hinterlands

8 August, 2008

Sinn Féin has said that the North West Gateway Initiative (NWGI) - the intergovernmental initiative first announced in May 2005 as the primary vehicle which would take forward the socio-economic regeneration of this part of Ireland - must now concentrate on delivery on the ground for areas like Strabane District and its Donegal hinterlands.

The comments were made in a statement from Strabane Sinn Fein District Councillors Gerard Foley and Kieran McGuire, who formed part of a party delegation which met with Mr Frank Duffy, a newly appointed Joint Chair of the North West Gateway Initiative, at a meeting at Stormont Castle yesterday afternoon.

The statement from the local Sinn Féin Councillors continued:

"Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness chaired yesterday's meeting between newly appointed NWGI Joint Chair Mr Frank Duffy and a North West Sinn Féin delegation.

"We brought a very clear message that the intergovernmental/interdepartmental body which has been charged with driving forward the regeneration of this part of Ireland, through integrated cross border strategies, must now concentrate on delivery on the ground for areas like Strabane District and its Donegal hinterlands which have borne the brunt of marganilization and neglect down through the years.

"Among the issues we specifically raised with the NWGI Joint Chair in relation to the needs of the Strabane/Donegal corridor were the development of the Further Education Sector in Strabane; the re-locatation of public sector jobs to the area; investment to ensure that the untapped tourist potential of the area is fully realised; and assistance towards collaborative projects between the Strabane/Lifford and Derg/Finn areas.

"The new NWGI Chair took on board the need to address specific local needs in Strabane and its Donegal hinterlands as part of an overall integrated regeneration strategy for the North West and Sinn Fein will be keeping these issues firmly on the agenda so that people in this area can see the work of the Gateway Initiative translating into tangible benefits on the ground." ENDS

Note to editors:

The NWGI was first announced at the British/Irish Intergovernmental Conference in May 2005. It was the Direct Rule Administration and Dublin government's response to concerted lobbying from Sinn Fein, among others, for the creation of Jobs/Economic Task Force for the North West to tackle the glaring socio-economic disparities in this part of Ireland.

The stated role of the Gateway Initiative includes integrated spatial planning; examination of the potential for joint investment in key infrastructure projects; joint action in areas such as trade and investment, tourism promotion; skills training; further and higher education; innovation and business development; better co-ordination of public services, notably in health, education and information.

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