There are fears that key parts of Londonderry’s massive economic regeneration plan will be dumped by officials who believe they are at risk of catastrophic failure.
Despite being included in Stormont’s Programme For Government, officials have assessed sections of Derry’s One Plan as a category five risk — the highest category available to them.
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt recently told the watchdog committee that scrutinises the work of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) that he was amazed at the red alerts.
He told OFMDFM official Tim Losty: “I do not think that I have ever seen that before. You have four defined risks.
“The first is the probability of risk occurring on a scale of one to five, where five is most likely. The score is five.
“The impact of risk also scores five, so you are saying that it is almost certain to happen, and, when it does, it will almost certainly be catastrophic.”
Mr Losty replied: “It reflects the very serious economic situation. Although the One Plan was put together in the midst of recession, the hope was that the recession would have bottomed out and we’d be coming out of it now.
“Unfortunately, the economic climate is still fairly serious.
“We are very aware of the impact of global issues on some of the organisations and businesses here.
“If something happens overseas, the parent company can pull out and take away 300 to 400 jobs in one go. So, we are very sensitive to those issues.”
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “None of us are naive enough to believe these are all easy asks, but the Programme for Government has supposedly made a commitment in respect of the One Plan.”
Derry’s urban regeneration company Ilex declined to comment.
OFMDFM was not immediately able to comment last night but a response is expected today.
Story so far
The One Plan for the economic regeneration of Londonderry proposes a massive expansion of university provision, key infrastructure projects such as a new road bridge and motorway links, and 12,500 new jobs. The ambitious plans were dealt a hammer blow over recent weeks with the A5 linking the North West to Aughnacloy and on to Dublin halting following a court ruling.