Dissident republicans have been told to “put away your guns and bombs and bring to an end the misery caused by violence” across the North West.
The blunt warning was issued by Unity of Purpose, a group made up of business, statutory, community and political leaders in Londonderry committed to promoting the North West region.
The group includes the President of the Londonderry Chamber, Philip Gilliland; City Centre Manager Jim Roddy; Derry City Council Chief Executive Sharon O’Connor; the PSNI District Commander, Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin; all of the Foyle MLAs; East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell and Foyle MP Mark Durkan.
The threat from dissident factions in Derry to disrupt the City of Culture year has hung heavy, but in a strongly-worded new year message the group makes it clear there is no place for violence in Derry's future.
Unity of Purpose came into existence after the Ulster Bank on the Culmore Road was bombed in 2010. It meets monthly to discuss developments affecting Derry and the surrounding area.
In a new statement, the group said: “For those who say ‘nothing has changed', we say ‘the evidence of change is all around us’.
“For those who would continue to advocate the use of force, threat or violence against any of our people or any part of our city, we say, ‘put away your guns and bombs and bring to an end the misery caused by violence'.
“The year 2013 will, as no other year, present this city and region with a set of unique opportunities and challenges that have the capacity to transform lives and reshape Derry-Londonderry as One City, One Community and One People.”
The group said Derry was “poised to tell the world a new story of peace and hope for prosperity in the future for all our people”.
“As we look forward to 2013 and beyond, we must create the necessary conditions to achieve change together.
“We must not let budgetary constraints or bureaucracy frustrate our sense of civic purpose to deliver the agreed priorities,” their statement said.
“We can and will develop strong working relationships with Government to create a dynamic enabling environment capable of stimulating the economy, growing our university and increasing our capacity to create and sustain jobs.”