Senior Government officials from both the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive will meet virtually with civic leaders and officials from Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council this week to discuss collaborative working on regional growth projects, COVID 19 and preparation for Brexit.
The North West Strategic Growth Partnership is a unique structure that was first established in 2016 through the North South Ministerial Council. Set up in recognition of the unique conditions in the North West City Region requiring a structural cross-border approach to support growth, the NWSGP brings together Local Government and Central Government officials from all Government departments in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to work together in releasing the full potential of the North West City Region to become a net contributor to the economies of both jurisdictions.
In this process Government Departments work with Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council to deliver on the strategic priorities aimed at bringing real and positive change for the North West City Region. The North West Strategic Growth Partnership focuses on three key ‘growth pillars’ for the region- Economy and Business, Physical and Environmental Infrastructure, and Social and Community Cohesion and Wellbeing.
Jointly led by Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council and supported by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD), the Partnership will meet virtually this week to hear about the ongoing collaborative work that is being done by the two Councils to continue to drive the ambitious growth plans for the region in terms of economic growth, investment, physical and environmental development as well as social and community cohesion and well-being. The Partnership will also discuss deepening collaborative working with Central Government in both jurisdictions, across a range of key themes which are important for the region’s future and which are also key Government policy priorities.
Jointly chaired by the Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council and Mayors of Derry City and Strabane District Council, the meeting is hugely important in updating both Governments on the work being done on the ground to progress with strategic investment in the region and to hear at first hand from senior Government officials the level of commitment and support that is available to assist drive forward these ambitious plans for the region.
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Rena Donaghey is supportive of the cross-border regional approach and says the meetings are important in giving senior Government officials a real insight into the co-ordinated and concerted way the two Councils are working together to deliver on the region’s priorities and that with their continued support we can continue to make progress and bring around real change and prosperity.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney speaking ahead of this week’s meeting said that it was important to align the regional strategic priorities with those of the two Governments to assist with more targeted economic growth and investment. He said: “This week’s Strategic Growth Partnership meeting will be an opportunity for us to provide an update on the positive work that is being done despite COVID and how we are working collaboratively in a positive and meaningful way to social and community cohesion and wellbeing.”
The Chief Executives from Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council will provide an overview of Development Collaboration in the North West region while officials from the NIO and Taoiseach’s Office will provide an update on Brexit and the North West City region while the joint secretaries of the North South Ministerial Council will provide an update in relation to the NW city region in relation to the New Decade, New Approach Agreement.
A key element of the meeting will be COVID19 and the work being done on a North South co-operation level to manage the pandemic and plan for recovery.
The meeting will be brought to a close with a plenary session looking at investment in the region’s third level education offering presented by representatives from the four key education institutions in the region, while there will be a discussion around a Green Transformation Framework for the cross-border region and a North West Planners Forum, both facilitated by ICLRD.
John McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council said the cross border collaboration and strong working relationship between the two Councils was key in developing a City region that is thriving, sustainable and prosperous. “We are facing some challenges with COVID and Brexit, however substantial progress has been made with a number of key strategic infrastructural and regeneration projects. We are confident that through this Strategic Growth Partnership we can continue to bring forward change and prosperity.
John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council said it was more important than ever that these strong links with senior government officials are utilised. “This partnership is truly unique and it is vitally important we maximise the opportunity to align our strategic policy plans to allow us to deliver on our objectives and key strategic infrastructural and regeneration projects.”