Castle Street Strabane Street Improvement Plans

Temporary traffic restrictions and new outdoor seating to allow town centre hospitality and other businesses to trade onto the street are among the measures proposed by urban designers as part of the wider recovery plan from Covid 19.

The streetscape proposals were outlined in a Covid Recovery and Revitalisation Street Life and Vibrant Places document presented to Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee.

Suggestions include additional street furniture in the town centres, and temporary traffic restrictions to create a more welcoming environment for pedestrians at Ferryquay Street, the Diamond and Bishop Street in Derry, and Castle Street in Strabane.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney welcomed the report, which was commissioned to urban designers at OGU/MMAS.

“Council has been engaging with a range of partners for some time to bring forward plans exploring options aimed at redesigning urban spaces and thoroughfares in our towns and city centres,” he explained.

“The plans are being brought forward as part of the wider Covid-19 Recovery strategy with the priority being to assist businesses by creating more attractive space, additional outdoor seating areas, better public realm design, enhanced city dressing and other improvements that will help restore customer confidence and drive footfall in these areas.”

Funding secured from central government will assist in the installation of street furniture including seating, planting and lighting and the enhancement of existing public spaces such as Waterloo Place, Ebrington and Queens Quay.

The full draft report can be viewed at derrystrabane.com 

The £250m City Deal for Derry City and Strabane has taken a major step forward with the signing of its Heads of Terms Agreement.

The deal, which marks the single largest ever government investment in the region, is aimed at bringing a transformative boost to the local economy and could create up to 7,000 new jobs.

Led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, key partners include Ulster University, the Western Health and Social Services Trust, the North West Regional College and C-TRIC research centre.

NI Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and NI Finance Minister Conor Murphy officially signed the Heads of Terms at a virtual event at Derry’s Guildhall in February, hosted by the Mayor and attended by the First Minister, Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill.

City Deal’s ambitious projects include the delivery of Centres of Innovation and Research at Ulster University in artificial intelligence, data analytics and robotics and automation; the key smart/digital City and Region initiatives; the delivery of The School of Medicine at the Magee campus; the creation of a Health Research Institute (HRI) in the city; and the expansion of C-TRIC at Altnagelvin through THRIVE, a pioneering health-innovation project.

Regeneration projects include mixed use civic, health, leisure and educational facilities as part of a major redevelopment of Strabane town centre; an interactive maritime attraction and enhanced Walled City tourism experience; and major regeneration investment along the riverfront and Queens Quay in Derry, to be closely linked to the expansion of the University.

A multi-skills employment pathways intervention support programme will be interlinked across all these projects.

Council chief executive John Kelpie said of the new milestone: “It has the potential to bring an additional 7,000 jobs by 2032 and lever additional millions in investment over the next decade. We aim to increase our output growth with a GVA (gross value added) of £230m per annum and see an additional £126m in wages.”

There’s no place like home. But with many Derry and Strabane diaspora unable to travel back this Christmas, Jenni Doherty of Little Acorns Bookstore shares her pick of 2020’s local books to enjoy from wherever you are in the world.

The Liar’s Daughter, by Claire Allan (£7.99) – Derry journalist and author Claire Allan is back with another gripping thriller, this time about family, grief, and secrets.

Erin’s Diary: An Official Derry Girls Book, by Lisa McGee (£16.99) – This official tie-in with the hit Channel 4 sitcom contains newspaper clippings, poetry, school reports and more. A treat for Derry Girls fans awaiting a third series!

Tennis Lessons, by Susannah Dickey (£14.99) – Susannah Dickey, who grew up in Derry, has received excellent reviews for this funny and beautiful coming-of-age novel (which, unusually, is written in the second person).

Ulster Fairytales and Legends, by Nicola and Peter Heaney (£13.99) – Nicola Heaney and her father Peter, a retired schoolteacher, have joined forces to create this collection of legends from every country in Ulster. Illustrated by Conor Busuttil.

The Man They Couldn’t Ban: The John Crossan Story, by Richie Kelly (£15) – Former BBC sports broadcaster Richie Kelly documents the colourful career of local Man City and Sunderland star John ‘Jobby’ Crossan.

The Gap Baking Book – Favourite Recipes by the Bakers at Gap Coffee Co (£18) – Recreate the cosiest flavours of home – from scones and shortbread to Guinness bread – with this book from Bridgend’s Gap Coffee Co.

Considering a move home? Local experts share their advice

Returning to the North West to live, work or invest is an enticing prospect – and perhaps more than ever in 2020.

With the recent rise in remote working, the North West’s excellent broadband offering, and award-winning, homegrown and global firms located here, that long held dream could become a reality.

But where should you start when planning your relocation? We asked some local experts their tips for finding a job, choosing a new home, and making the move.

Lynn Jennings, founder and headhunter at talentsocial

Most of the software companies I work with in Derry and Donegal are expanding at the minute. If anything, the move to home working has increased the demand for their software, be it in the ecommerce, online recruitment or data protection industry.

There are countless opportunities for Software Engineers particularly, in the North West, but roles also come up within other departments: Sales, Marketing, Finance, Operations, Product/Project Management and HR. LinkedIn is the best place to find opportunities. Make sure your profile is complete and connect with headhunters in the area, and set up alerts for Derry and Strabane on job boards.

Some of the bigger companies do their own recruitment, so a direct application is the best bet. I’ll usually advise candidates of this and discuss clients I’d recommend we make an application together to. Most of the smaller software companies prefer to partner with an external recruiter. I usually start out partnering with small indigenous SaaS (software as a service) clients who are then bought by bigger global players and the partnership continues. I’m seeing a move back to cross border working again recently, and people returning from London, Belfast and Dublin in particular. COVID has prioritised proximity to family and nature as well as space, which the North West has in abundance.

Anaeleigh McCormick, company director, Locate Estate Agents

Social media makes the world a smaller place and allows you to choose your new home from anywhere in the world. I find that through my social media platforms I have made connections with many clients living abroad, who can keep up to date with what is available in the area via my daily stories.

If you have a family, it’s important to choose an area close to local schools as sometimes only certain postcodes can be allocated spaces in the schools. It’s also wise to be close to the family network, especially grandparents and other reliable babysitters.

You do not need your home to be in the city centre – for those who are a bit more open-minded and prepared to travel a short distance from the city, you will get a lot more house for your money. Those coming home will be pleasantly surprised at what’s available on their budget within Derry and Strabane!

Finally, welcome home. There is nowhere in the world better than Derry & Strabane.

Bernard McGowan, director and operations manager, Foyle International Removals and Storage

Derry is going through a renaissance at the moment. You’re making the right choice to move here – it is a great place to work and live. The upsurge in people who are moving home is absolutely astronomical. We’ve moved hundreds of people since the pandemic hit.

When moving, be boxed, packed and ready, and label everything for what room it goes in. Use larger boxes for lighter items, and small boxes for heavier items. Layer the box – heavy at the bottom, medium at the middle and light at the top. Notify all your new utilities suppliers, doctors and schools before you move so everything is lined up for you when you arrive. Always allow yourself ample time for travel and potential travel delays. If people opt to fly over, we can recommend people to transport your vehicle for you.

We also recommend packing a ‘bitz box’ to access easily when you arrive – all your TV remotes, kettle, toaster, important documents. We see people crying tears of happiness when they see the moving lorry arrive. It’s the beginning of their journey home.

A transatlantic conference hosted virtually in Derry’s Guildhall has attracted a record number of global participants.

The 12th Golden Bridges Conference and Awards ceremony saw political leaders, business and community representatives and education providers from the North West and Boston share their experiences of dealing with the COVID pandemic and preparing for Brexit.

The conference saw more than 500 registrations from all over the world and its influential delegates and speakers included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Charlie McConalogue, and Seagate CEO Dave Mosley.

The challenge faced by the Ireland NW region in dealing with the pandemic was a predominate feature of the conference, with inputs and views from various community, cultural and commercial sector representatives from both sides of the Atlantic.

The annual Golden Bridges conference, usually held in Boston, aims to promote partnerships between Ireland Northwest and Boston, Massachusetts and highlight various community, business, and education initiatives in the two regions by bringing together influential business and political leaders.

You can watch the event back at www.aisling-events.com

A selection of early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs have taken part in a start-up boot camp to help grow and scale their business.

The one-day virtual event, delivered by Ignite NI, saw 15 participants with scalable and technology-enabled ideas learn more about the key factors involved in building a start-up, receive one-to-one support, and take part in challenges and themed sessions.

They also heard directly from successful CEOs who shared their experiences growing their own companies, and were introduced to representatives from boot camp partners from the Council, Ulster University and Invest Northern Ireland, who supported the event.

Kevin O’Connor, Council’s Head of Business, said the boot camp was a massive success in showing entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses why the district is a good location to take their first steps.

“The start-up boot camp was an excellent opportunity for us to engage with entrepreneurs and explain that we have a support ecosystem within Derry and Strabane to support founders on their journey and to help them to grow.

“If we build supportive communities then the start-up density will increase and the number of successful companies will increase, which then leads to higher job creation and a thriving region.”

To contact Council’s business team, call 02871253253 or visit derrystrabane.com/businesssupport .

With December 25 fast approaching, a new website has been launched to help gift-givers shop local this Christmas.

shoplocalderrystrabane.com signposts shoppers towards the best artisan and locally made gift providers and showcases the outstanding food and drink options available in the City and District.

The easy-to-navigate site features video messages from business owners, daily competitions and links to the social media pages of other shop local initiatives.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney urged people to champion local businesses this festive season.

“It has never been more important for us to get behind businesses that are locally owned this year, given the smaller window they will have to open to the public. Finding the perfect gift for loved ones has never been easier or safer with many local retailers now offering click and collect or home delivery services.”

The site will function beyond Christmas time and will be available for the public to access in the New Year.

An Ulster University Artificial Intelligence (AI) expert is working on pioneering new technology which could help people communicate after serious brain injuries.

Professor Damien Coyle aims to develop AI technology that can be used in new forms of wearable neurotechnologies. These devices, which measure signals from the brain and allow their wearer to interact with technology without movement, could help those unable to communicate following a serious injury or illness.

Professor Coyle, Director of the Intelligent Systems Research Centre at Ulster University’s Magee campus, has received UK government investment for the research. He is leading a national trial in partnership with 17 hospitals to evaluate AI-enabled neurotechnology for consciousness assessment in prolonged disorders of consciousness following severe brain injury.

The AI R&D planned will be thoroughly trialed in the lab and with end-users of the technology, including patients and clinicians. The AI will be deployed in ‘wearables’ developed in partnership with NeuroCONCISE Ltd, an Ulster University spinout.

The Derry City and Strabane District Council area has officially become the first Zero Waste City in the UK and Ireland.


The European designation sees the Council area join a network of communities across the continent sharing learning and experiences of reducing waste generation while improving recycling rates and the quality of the resources captured.

The new status comes amid a deepening collaboration with local campaigning group Zero Waste North West, and marks the latest stage of the City and District’s adoption of a Circular Economy/Zero Waste Strategy.

The Strategy aims to keep resources and products in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value for the local economy, before recovering and regenerating them at the end of their life cycle.

For more on Council’s Waste and Recycling Services visit derrystrabane.com/recycling. Full details on Council’s Circular Economy strategy can be viewed at derrystrabane.com/circulareconomy.

A US-based research scientist and biotechnology entrepreneur with Donegal roots has donated $100,000 to support three students through their four-year degrees at Ulster University’s School of Medicine.

Massachusetts-based Dr Susan K Whoriskey, whose great-grandfather, John Whoriskey, was from Creeslough in Co Donegal, made the donation via the Irish American Partnership.

Dr Whoriskey has worked with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Moderna since it was a start-up, and was involved in the founding of several top biotech companies. She has also been Entrepreneur in Residence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Medical Education Scholarships at Ulster University offer financial assistance to a number of eligible students who are successful in obtaining a place on the Graduate Entry Medicine programme, commencing in August 2021. The Scholarships are aimed at students who have, and/or continue to experience challenges, and where finances present a barrier to accessing a medical education.

More information about the scholarships, including eligibility criteria and key milestones, can be found at www.ulster.ac.uk/medicine.