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07 Jul 2022

"The North West provides unfettered access to the UK, Ireland and EU markets"

Derry and Letterkenny Chambers aim to work together to enhance North West region

"The North West provides unfettered access to the UK, Ireland and EU markets"

The Derry and Letterkenny Chambers of Commerce have met to discuss their shared priorities for the North West

The Derry and Letterkenny Chambers of Commerce have met to discuss their shared priorities for the North West ahead of what has been described as a significant year for the city region.

Representing over 600 businesses across the North West, the two Chambers agreed a partnership in 2021 to collaborate on issues affecting the membership of both bodies.

The meeting was the first opportunity for new Chamber Presidents, Derry Chamber’s Aidan O’Kane, and Letterkenny Chamber’s Kristine Reynolds, to meet as they began their tenure.

With Protocol negotiations ongoing, both Chambers expressed their desire for the protection of the North West’s unfettered access to UK, Ireland, and EU markets. 

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to present challenges to businesses on both sides of the border, with rising energy and material costs presenting further disruption to hard-hit retail and hospitality sectors.

The meeting comes as the Chambers submit their joint response to the All Island Strategic Rail Review, where they call for wholesale rail reform to strengthen the North West’s connectivity with the island’s other economic hubs.

Over the past year, the Chambers have also collaborated on a Masters in Research Programme examining cross border clusters, with a particular focus on the FinTech sector.

Derry Chamber President, Aidan O’Kane, said: “I was privileged to meet with the Letterkenny Chamber to discuss our shared ambitions for the North West.

"For years, our close partnership with Letterkenny has reflected the progress we believe can be made through meaningful cross-border collaboration. 

"The challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit have not gone away, and it is imperative that we work alongside each other to meet these issues head-on.”

“The vast economic potential of the North West City Region is well known. Derry and Letterkenny are thriving hubs of innovation and growth, and with proper investment, support, and stimulus, we can reach the heights seen elsewhere across the island. 

"In the year ahead, Stormont, Dublin and Westminster must knuckle down, not work in their silos, and support the North West’s growth, as one coherent and conjoined region.

 “I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Letterkenny Chamber in my tenure in what is a crucial year for the North West business community.”

 Kristine Reynolds, Letterkenny Chamber President, said: “We were delighted to establish a formal partnership with the Derry Chamber in 2021, an agreement which reflected how interconnected we are as a city region. 

"Our collaboration has been instrumental in promoting our members’ interests to key stakeholders and elected representatives across the island. 

"Now, with an important year ahead of us, we are looking forward to working together to tackle the key issues facing our local economy.”

“As a unique cross-border city region, the North West provides unfettered access to the UK, Ireland and EU markets. 

"Regional infrastructure and connectivity are improving slowly, however, and there remains little to no rail connectivity to and within our region. 

"Following the All Island Strategic Rail Review, both Stormont and Dublin must work to address the regional imbalance in transport infrastructure as part of a properly funded investment programme to bolster our region.”

“I was pleased to meet with my counterpart Aidan and I hope that, in working together, we can build a more vibrant, sustainable and prosperous regional economy that benefits everyone.”

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