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17 January 2008 Edition

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The Mary Nelis Column

Stand up for Derry

THE STAND UP FOR DERRY CAMPAIGN, spearheaded by MLA Martina Anderson, was voted down at last month’s meeting of Derry City Council. The SDLP lambasted the proposal, labelling it ‘a political stunt’ aimed at masking the ineffectiveness of Sinn Féin Ministers to deliver for Derry.
One could argue, for the sake of political point scoring, that Sinn Féin Ministers have only been in post six months while SDLP MPs, MEPs and Ministers, have been in these posts for all the years that the City has been in decline.
But the situation in this City, is much too serious for such party political nonsense and when citizens wonder why this City is at the bottom of the heap in terms of investment, jobs, educational and training facilities and amenities enjoyed by places with half its population, they need to ask what this Council majority party has been doing all these years and why now in the face of continuing job losses, they should vote down a motion to stand up for a City that has been the target of an apartheid mindset, going back to partition.
Dealing with crime and anti-community activity is one good reason for standing up for Derry and indeed many citizens have embraced the concept long ago,  voluntarily giving up their time week in and week out to protect citizens in the absence of a  proper and adequate policing service.
Another good reason for standing up for Derry is to challenge the allocation of resources, which has kept City as an economic backwater.  Derry has never  enjoyed a level playing field. Not surprising when one considers that at least 90% of the staff at the Northern Ireland Office is located in predominantly Unionist areas. In the distribution of staff by parliamentary constituency, three are located in West Belfast, seven in Foyle and the rest in that place currently enjoying mega buck investment.
We know that the key to the filing cabinet in the Northern Ireland Office marked West of the Bann has been lost probably since partition. That’s why our roads are dirt tracks, our river stagnant, our rail service off track, our airport in financial mid flight, and our jobs going to far away places with strange sounding names.
The people who struggle daily through a nightmare of debt and poverty are the people who stood up for Civil Rights, and were shot off the streets for doing so. Those in the SDLP describing standing up for the rights of the people of Derry, as ‘a sham’ would do well to remember that.
Yes, Derry has got a raw deal and it’s no use blaming the IRA, or the war. The war did not stop investment in Belfast or Lisburn or the other places who in the last thirty years or so, enjoyed the economic prosperity denied Derry.
Nor is it any use demonising those who are trying to do something about it. That’s just sour grapes.
On 21 January, Martina Anderson will lead a motorcade of people to Stormont to stand up for Derry. We need Derry people to make the drive to Stormont so that the faceless people in the Northern Ireland Office will be left in no doubt where Sinn Féin stands. We stand up for Derry.

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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