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Major North West business initiative planned in Europe

5 December, 2006

'Five Chambers will lobby jointly for North West' - Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin has announced a major initiative at European level to boost business and enterprise development throughout the North West.

This afternoon five Chambers of Commerce from Buncrana, Letterkenny, Gaoth Dobhair, Strabane and Derry will fly to Brussels for a high-level meeting with the European Chamber of Commerce.

The meetings have been organised and facilitated by Sinn Féin's European Department, at the invitation of MEP Bairbre deBrún.

The Chamber of Commerce representatives will be accompanied by over 20 delegates, including members of the business, media and community sectors in the North West, as well as Sinn Fein representatives for the intensive two-day trip.

High-level meetings are planned with senior members of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Irish Regions Office and the Northern Executive, as well as the European Chamber of Commerce. During these engagements regional development in the North West, the PEACE III and IFI funds and the new proposed European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation will be addressed.

Speaking today before departing Sinn Féin Assembly member for Foyle Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"Sinn Féin is uniquely placed as a national political party, with senior representatives in all parts of the island, to address the needs of the North West. In this region we have 41 local Councillors as well as two MPs and 7 MLAs.

"This high-level initiative at European level is part of Sinn Fein's ongoing effort to boost North West regional economic development.

"Sinn Fein's ability to facilitate five Chambers of Commerce from the North West to meet with the European Chamber of Commerce is a good example of the way forward, by applying international lessons at a local level. Sinn Féin representatives Cllrs Padraig MacLochlainn, Pearse Doherty, Gerry MacLochlainn, Sean McPeake and Jarlath McNulty, along with myself, will accompany them and they will be hosted by MEP Bairbre deBrún.

"Partition continues to undermine the economy, infrastructure and the opportunities of the people who live on this island. However tackling inefficiencies within the two systems north and south does not need to wait on Irish unity. Combating the problems faced by the Border Corridor Area and its regions, including the North West, can begin now.

"The all-Ireland architecture of the Good Friday Agreement provides a basis for doing this. Its all-Ireland Ministerial Council, the Implementation Bodies and Areas of Co-operation are all designed to reduce duplication of services and maximise efficiency.

"This important trip is not an end in itself. It is part of a long term commitment by Sinn Féin. It has come about after much hard work and is part of a process were we have sought to bring together elected representatives along with experts from outside the party to examine the adverse impact of partition and the failure of the British and Irish governments to plan for growth in the North West region. We want to produce an integrated strategy which will reverse this damage and allow this region to face the challenges which it will meet in the coming years." CRÍOCH

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