Parity needed for Strabane-Lifford Corridor in North West Regeneration Strategy
West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty is seeking to ensure that the socio-economic needs of the Strabane-Lifford Corridor and other areas of the northwest are given the same priority as those in the Derry-Letterkenny Corridor under the North West Gateway Initiative.
Mr Doherty said:
"The North West Gateway Initiative is the response by both governments to political demands for a holistic regeneration strategy for the north west and to demands for a joint governmental approach to be taken to redress the unique socio-economic problems of this region of Ireland.
"The remit 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, promotion, tourism, skills/training, further and higher education, innovation and business development; better co-ordination of public services, notably in health, education and information.
"As such the potential for this initiative is massive if both administrations are prepared to resource it properly.
"However, from official announcement of the Gateway initiative at the British/Irish Intergovernmental Conference in May, I have become
increasingly concerned that the primary focus appears to be on the Derry-Letterkenny Corridor, with the urgent needs of the Strabane-Lifford Corridor and other areas of the north west being relegated to a lesser position.
"While I recognise that the Derry-Letterkenny Corridor is a key element in the strategy for the economic regeneration of the North West, it is essential that equal weighting is given to redressing the equally pressing socio-economic needs of the Strabane-Lifford Corridor and other areas of the North West.
"This perception that the north west is now being re-defined in geographical terms is being reinforced in the public pronouncements of government ministers from both jurisdictions on the issue by their continual singling out the Derry-Letterkenny Gateway for specific mention.
"This is worrying, especially in light of recent correspondence with Direct Rule Ministers when I have been seeking government intervention to address the dire economic plight of Strabane, I have been told that I should now relate directly with the North West Gateway Initiative, as it is now the primary body charged with formulating a re-generation strategy for the area.
"I have now written to the CoChairs of the Gateway Initiative seeking an urgent meeting between a Sinn Fein delegation and the joint group of officials that have been charged with taking the North West Gateway initiative forward so as to ensure that equal-weighting is given to the socio-economic needs of the Strabane-Lifford Corridor and other areas of the North West." ENDS