Why is Derry So Poor? Part III – The Solutions

It is clear that there are economic and social challenges facing Northern Ireland’s second city, and that little is being done to address them. So what type of solutions could be pursued to enable Derry to fulfil its potential as a key economic generator for the north west of the island ? Here are some suggestions : 1. Acknowledge the Problem The first step in dealing with any problem is to acknowledge its existence. Yet there has been no official … Read more

Why is Derry So Poor ? Part II – The Reasons

How did Northern Ireland’s second city find itself at the bottom of the pile? Before considering this it is important to acknowledge that there is nothing inherent to Derry which condemns it to the status of an economic outlier. Even its location on the north-western fringe of Europe should not be a major impediment – as proven by the relative success of locations like Galway, Limerick, Cork and Inverness. To the contrary, Derry features many of the things you would … Read more

Why is Derry So Poor, and Why is Nothing Being Done About it ? (Part I)

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement – whilst Belfast experiences a construction boom and tourists flock to the Titanic, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges – a part of Northern Ireland is being increasingly left behind. Not just any part, but the north’s second city. A place which is supposed to function as the economic hub of an entire region of this island. And a city in which deprivation and inequality in previous decades lit the fuse that started Northern … Read more

Memories of the October 5th 1968 Civil Rights March. The day The Troubles began…

  I’ve never spoke on a public platform before, but feel moved to break my silence and contribute to the 50th anniversary civil rights Program. I always remind my twin brother, Fionnbarra, that I am his senior, being born one hour before him at 134 Bogside, which was then known as a single street which ran from the Slaughter House to the junction of Lecky Road & Rossville Street. My mother Mary Ellen, born 1908. hailed from Ballee, Ballymagory near … Read more

Anger Over City Deal Snub, As Derry Grows Restless for Change

Fifty years ago this June, a caravan was used to block the Lecky Road in Derry’s Bogside in protest at Londonderry Corporation’s housing policy. The Unionist-run council retained control over the majority nationalist city at that time by discriminating against Catholics in housing and votes. The caravan protest represented a marked escalation in tactics by the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC), who shortly afterwards contacted the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and persuaded them to hold a demonstration in the … Read more

Don’t write Londonderry, or “some glipe is sure to come out and deface it…”

Malachi, with typical verve comes out celebrating (ie, fighting) the beautiful but purposely underused name of Londonderry… And there are many who will insist on the name of the city being Derry. They include serious thoughtful people and people with strong commercial heads on their Londonderry shoulders. So flights having been arriving at City of Derry Airport to do business in Londonderry. Not that anyone local would be confused about where they were, but it must cause foreign visitors some … Read more

Ulster Uni’s new Belfast Campus Shows it isn’t Serious About Magee Expansion. So it’s time for Derry to Look Elsewhere

Last week’s A’Level results not only signalled the start of the annual scramble to secure a place at University. They also pointed to a worrying development for the long-promised expansion of Magee campus in Derry. Student Numbers Falling Figures from UCAS (the University and Colleges Admissions Service) show a 4% fall this year in applications to go to University – the first such decline in five years.  All parts of the UK are reflecting this drop, and the figures also … Read more

The £400m for Infrastructure in the Conservative-DUP agreement will only exacerbate Northern Ireland’s east-west divide

Northern Ireland’s infrastructure has drawn the prize ticket from the £1bn of new money in the Conservative-DUP deal – securing £400m, or 40% of the entire fund. This has been greeted with criticism elsewhere in the UK, but can be justified on two grounds. Firstly – Northern Ireland arguably has the worst infrastructure of any region in the UK. Only significant external funding will reverse the decades-long under-investment that has caused that. Secondly – the situation is worse still within … Read more

New Sinn Féin MLA Director of Group that Discriminated against Job Applicant because of his Political Opinion

The Irish News today highlights details of the newly-appointed Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Karen Mullan’s relevant experience for the job, mentioned in Eamonn McCann’s excellent post on the case, that illuminates David’s, somewhat limited, subsequent description of her as a “community worker in the city of Derry”. Karen Mullan is a director of Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership (WNP) Ltd., Sinn Féin and the DUP’s preferred delivery mechanism for community services and funding in the area, who, earlier this year, were ordered to … Read more

Magee or not Magee – Time for for a graduate entry medical school in Derry / Londonderry?

  There is definite support in Derry for Ulster University’s proposal for a graduate entry medical school at Magee campus.  After 53 years of exasperation that the city does not have a full sized university, actual excitement for such ideas is always tempered by fear that it will not happen.  But at least the city’s response is definitely positive – unlike the apparent reactions in Belfast and Coleraine. A medical school in Derry should be a no brainer.  There are … Read more

The warm welcome Arlene Foster received at the funeral of Martin McGuinness came as a surprise to many. But not to those who know Derry well.

“Of all the ‘moments’ in my 27 years of journalism, applause for Arlene Foster at the funeral of Martin McGuinness is right up there”. So remarked Sky News’s Ireland correspondent, David Blevins, after one of Northern Ireland’s most important funerals in years. Blevins wasn’t alone in being wrong-footed by this turn of events. This was, after all, the funeral of a former IRA commander – held in a staunchly nationalist city during the uncertain aftermath of a landmark and divisive … Read more

The Case for a ‘Foyle Free Trade Zone’.

Derry’s days as a regional transport hub appear to be largely behind it. In better times the city has served as a hub for shipbuilding, an international naval base, a thriving export centre and a key departure point for emigrants. Nowadays, the sole legacy of that is a small but important port facility at Lisahally.  Meanwhile, the town which bore witness to Amelia Earhart making aviation history 85 years ago contains a regional airport that survives largely through Council subsidies. … Read more

EDUCATING ULSTER : Northern Ireland has a chronic shortage of students, whilst Belfast has too many and the west of the province has too few. The solution is obvious.

September marked the annual return of students to their term-time accommodation. And within two days residents of the Holylands had lodged over 150 complaints of anti-social behaviour with Belfast City Council. That university neighbourhood’s term-time population comprises over 90% of students/young people, amounting to an estimated 7,000 in just one square kilometre. It will probably provide little comfort to residents of the Holylands to learn that Northern Ireland (NI) has the lowest provision of university places in the UK. And … Read more

A fresh start for the A5 – but at what cost?

Disclaimer: being a strong public transport advocate does not stop me from enjoying the open road, gliding effortlessly past slower traffic [You don’t say – Ed] Indeed – but we all have too many things to do that cannot conveniently be done by bike, bus or train… Mick has already considered the opportunity cost of the £75 million promised by the Irish Government for the A5 scheme from Newbuildings to Strabane, although I think that money could buy several Narrow … Read more

“Sinn Féin were not in court today. Councillor Kelly was, and he was acquitted of all charges.”

Entirely unrelated to Sinn Féin’s opposition to welfare reform… Last week a Deputy District Magistrate in Londonderry acquitted Sinn Féin Councillor Colin Kelly on charges of fraudulently claiming over £19,000 in Housing Benefit and Job Seekers Allowance between November 2010 and March 2014 – when he was a member of Derry City Council.  He is currently a councillor on the new Derry City and Strabane District Council for which the basic allowance is £14,200 p.a. – up from the previous allowance of £9,835 a … Read more

Coleraine-Waterside Phase 2 contract awarded

With the controversy well recounted over the escalation of costs for the upgrade of this section of railway line, I think I should start this post with a little explanation well known to those of us who have ever been involved in procurement, whether public sector or private sector. Basically, and regardless of the skills of your Quantity Surveyor who has their ear to the ground and knows very well what the going rate is for the materials needed for … Read more

What would it take to get a motorway to Derry/Londonderry? – Guest post by Wesley Johnston

Back in 1964 William Craig, the Minister of Home Affairs for Northern Ireland, announced an ambitious plan to build a network of motorways around the province. In terms of the North West, the core of the plan was a motorway from Belfast to Coleraine – the M2. From this would come two spurs. The M22 would diverge at Antrim and go to Castledawson, serving Mid Ulster. The M23 would diverge north of Ballymena and go to Londonderry, via Limavady. At … Read more

Blue Plaque unveiled in Aghadowey

Yesterday the Ulster History Circle unveiled a Blue Plaque at Aghadowey Presbyterian Church in honour of Rev. James McGregor. Aghadowey Presbyterian Church was founded in 1655 making it one of the oldest congregations west of the Bann. It also has amongst the largest Presbyterian church buildings in County Londonderry. Rev. James McGregor was a veteran of the siege of Derry where he is purported by some to have been the first to see the relieving ships. He became minister of … Read more

Cyclist beats “embarrassing” train in race from Derry to Belfast

An SDLP press release issued today reveals the results of a “bicycle versus train” challenge on Sunday, travelling between Derry and Belfast. John Madden and Peter Jack set off from Derry’s General Post Office at 9.15am. John threw his leg over his bicycle and broke the Derry to Belfast record (held by Morris ‘Big Mo’ Foster) as he pedalled down to Belfast Albert Memorial Clock (avoiding motorways) in 2 hours 27 minutes. Meanwhile Peter caught the 09:42 train from Londonderry … Read more

Martin McGuinness: “I mean I remember, I remember, I remember…”

Or not, as the case may be.  Faced with evidence to the contrary, the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, has admitted that he was not, as he had claimed in an interview with RTÉ’s Marian Finucane, in Portlaoise prison when “Patrick Duffy was killed and his body secretly buried”.  As the News Letter reports In a statement, [Martin McGuinness] said: “The facts are that I served a six-month sentence in Portlaoise jail in 1973 and another in … Read more