MP wants North-South machine tuned up

LONDONDERY MP Mark Durkan wants to “tune up the North-South machinery in the interests of all on this island - not least those in the North West.”

The local representative called for greater strategic collaboration between the British and Irish governments on a number of policies and programmes - not least the renewal of the North West Gateway Initiative.

He also referred to the case of Project Kelvin, the Radiotherapy Centre at Altnagelvin and the A5.

Speaking in the wake of Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin’s comments that there has been a distinct lack of progress in recent years on the development of cross-border institutions and initiatives.

“The North-South agenda continues to be stymied at a time when we need greater opportunities of scale, complementarity and working together on the important issues affecting people living in cross-border areas,” said Mr Durkan.

“There is a duty to tune up the North-South machinery in the interests of all on this island - not least those in the North West.

“The North West Gateway Initiative was established by Dermot Ahern and Peter Hain following SDLP proposals in 2006 to respond to a particular, visible, describable and identifiable need in the North West, encompassing the Donegal County Council, Derry City Council, Strabane District Council and Limavady Borough Council areas.

“Unfortunately, in this period of devolution, the initiative has not been adopted by the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC),” he added.

Mr Durkan said he has consistently called for the initiative’s immediate renewal under the authority of the NSMC.

“If we are to get things joined up and nailed down here in the North West then there should be meetings in cross-sectoral format of the North-South Ministerial Council which is provided for in the Good Friday Agreement in order to focus on services and development.

“Because it was not properly adopted or promoted under the auspices of the NSMC after devolution, development in Derry has been threatened on a number of occasions – in the case of Project Kelvin, the Radiotherapy Centre at Altnagelvin and the A5 Derry to Dublin Road.

“Ultimately, in the past five and a half years of devolution North-South cooperation has been ‘staying low and going slow’. Indeed, in too many cases it has actually gone nowhere in terms of being turned into proper initiatives.”