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Regeneration Plan may hold key to social and economic revitalisation of North West - McLaughlin

12 December, 2005

Speaking ahead of the launch of the Ilex Regeneration Framework Plan, which will be unveiled tomorrow, Tuesday 13th December, Sinn Fein General Secretary and Economy spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin has expressed a cautious optimism that the City and indeed the greater North West Region may finally begin to witness some tangible progress for the social and economic regeneration of the North West.

Mitchel Mc Laughlin said:

"The Ilex Regeneration Framework Plan should present an effective strategy for the City and Region to develop and particularly on how best to utilise the potential of the two former British Army sites at Fort George and Ebrington.

"I will also be very interested to see how the proposals will address the role of Magee campus as a prime driver in delivering for the Region as a centre of Educational Excellence.

"This would require the University to expand its faculties to offer international best practice in terms of research capability, gaining recognition as a centre of excellence in Information & Communication Technology, Medical disciplines and other key sectors.

"I am also hopeful that the Plan will allow us to build on road and rail transport and other infrastructural linkages on an All-Ireland basis. Both Peter Hain, the British Secretary of State and Dermott Ahern the Irish Foreign Minister in recent days have acknowledged the practicability of developing the Derry/Donegal region as a single travel to work area. Their economic futures are intertwined. The City of Derry Airport, and Seaport for instance, have an obvious role to play in providing not only economic but huge social benefits to the entire region.

"Sinn Fein has consistently argued that this region needs a major financial injection to allow for proper infrastructural development. I hope that this will form part of tomorrow's announcement.

"Special attention should also be paid to the huge potential of the Region in terms of tourism and cultural development that would market the City Centre as a cultural, tourist and heritage hub.

Mr. McLaughlin concluded:

"The Ilex Plan must offer this region the opportunity to build the potential of our road, rail, air and seaport infrastructure to rejuvenate economic activity here. It is crucial that it promotes Derry as a prime site to locate business, with a highly skilled / trained workforce that can compete with Belfast, Dublin or Cork. Derry is the fourth largest city on the island and has the potential to spark the development of the entire Atlantic Corridor. Ilex, in this plan must demonstrate that it can get it right and deliver tangible applicable results."

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