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"McHugh’s Derry City Airport comments reflects Fine Gael partitionism" - MacLochlainn

28 July, 2009

Derry Sinn Fein Councillor, Gerry MacLochlainn has slammed comments by Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh who is calling into question all-Ireland investment in vital infrastructure for the North West.

Speaking today Councillor MacLochlainn said

“As a TD for Donegal Joe McHugh should know only too well how much the North West region has suffered from government underinvestment and the devastating effects partition has had on our local economy. Recent investment by the Irish Government in projects that it sees as beneficial to Irish Regional economies should be welcomed by politicians throughout the North West regardless of political affiliation.

“The investment in City of Derry Airport by Derry ratepayers is beneficial to the entire region in terms of tourism and business travel and that includes Donegal. Recognising the regional benefit of the Airport as essential to maintain our region’s links with the wider world both, administrations took the prudent decision to invest in the facility. The £7 ½ million contributed by the Irish government was based on a full business assessment that considered the benefits to the region.

“Almost 50% of users of Derry Airport travel to or from Donegal whilst the airport brings some £20million annually into the regional economy. Donegal reaps a substantial portion of this economic activity. Therefore the Irish government investment is modest in comparison to the returns.

“A politician that had the best interests of the region in mind, rather than grabbing a headline for purely party political purposes, would see this investment as part of an over-all regional regeneration project. Alongside the Road developments that will link us with Dublin, Project Kelvin that will give Derry and Donegal access to the fastest internet connections to North America the City of Derry Airport provides direct access to the region for business travellers. We at last have the opportunity to build our economy and lift our people’s standard of living and Joe McHugh chooses to undermine that opportunity. His attitude of putting party before region only endangers future growth.

“Perhaps Joe should pay some heed to the recent IBEC-CBI Joint Business Committee report that sent a very clear message to both administrations on this island that a focused approach on building an all-Ireland single economy is the best way for forward for economic regeneration.
“Other business leaders across Ireland also realise that all-Ireland makes sense. They realise that two separate economies on an island of under 6 million people, now more than ever, will only serve to hamper efforts to revitalise the economy. They recognise that unnecessary economic competition will lead to stagnation and wasteful spending on duplication of services.” ENDS

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