On his visit on Saturday last to the North West region Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed his commitment to the region and to building on the positive work already underway.
At his meeting in Derry with the North West Region Development Group, which is made up of elected members from Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Taoiseach complimented both Councils on their ambitious approach to the development of the North West City Region. He confirmed that the Irish Government are very much behind the work being done in the region and that they are committed to working with relevant key stakeholders to deliver on the strategic growth priorities for the region including a commitment to the development of the A5/N2/N14 route.
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Gerry McMonagle and Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle both welcomed the Taoiseach’s visit to the region and the opportunity to highlight the strong momentum for continued growth and prosperity that currently exists in the Derry/Letterkenny City Region and to share information on the new regional growth structures that have been recently established.
The Chair and Vice Chair of the North West Regional Development Group, Cllr Albert Doherty and Cllr. Gus Hastings also welcomed the Taoiseach and highlighted the importance of the ongoing collaborative approach in driving growth in the region. The long history of cross-border connections and co-operation within this region was emphasised, as was the potential for this region as an important contributor to the economic prosperity of both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
In a joint presentation the Chief Executives of Donegal County Council Seamus Neely and Derry City and Strabane District Council John Kelpie presented an overview of the model for regional development and outlined the region’s growth priorities. They highlighted the importance for continued Irish Government strategic support and engagement through the North West Strategic Growth Partnership and the need for enhanced status for the Derry / Letterkenny City Region in the National Planning Framework. They also presented detail on a number of key regional economic catalyst projects including the development of A5/N2/N14, support for the region’s expansion of third level Educational Institution’s as well as continued support for shared services in the areas of Health and Wellbeing.
Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council explained that the region speaks with a collective voice and that there is a strong shared perspective on what is needed in the region. “The recent local government reform process north and south was essentially a key enabler for the region. It gave us an opportunity to look at how best to drive growth at a strategic level and the work done by Departments North and South in terms of considering how this region can be provided for in the context of both spatial planning frameworks is an important step forward for us.”
John Kelpie, Derry City and Strabane District Council described the region’s potential as an important driver for economic growth saying “we are confident that this region has the potential to be a key contributor and significant driver for growth in our economies. We are unique in that we are the fourth largest City region on the island with a population of 350,000. The back to back planning approach of the past did not work for this region and we are now focused on an integrated approach where the work of both Councils and our partner organisations has a strong regional context that will ultimately see the potential of this city and region being fully realised”.
The Taoiseach who was accompanied on the day by Minister Joe McHugh, Government Chief Whip concluded the meeting by reiterating the Irish Governments commitment to the delivery of the A5/N2/N14 road from Derry to Dublin and confirmed that the Irish Government is fully behind the work being done in the North West City region.