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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Collaboration key to COVID cross border response

Strong partnership working, sharing information and joined up messaging are key to driving down COVID-19 numbers across the North West was the message from the Mayors of Derry City, Strabane and Donegal, attending a meeting to discuss the COVID 19 response in the region.

The meeting, which was held yesterday evening and was co-chaired by the two Mayors, Cllr Brian Tierney Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council and An Cathaoirleach Cllr Rena Donaghey of Donegal County Council, was set up to discuss the cross border approach to the COVID 19 rates across the North West.

It was attended by the Chair and Vice Chair of the North West Regional Development Group, Cllr Sandra Duffy (Derry City and Strabane District Council) and Cllr Ciaran Brogan (Donegal County Council), as well as the Chief Executives of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, John Kelpie and John McLaughlin, along with senior Council officials from both Councils.

Those attending the meeting were provided with details of the current COVID 19 infection rates across their respective Council areas and heard about the proactive work being done by both Councils to support the statutory agencies in responding to the pandemic and how they are adapting services and providing support as the NW reopens at the varying stages of recovery.

While concern was expressed at the high infection rate in both Council areas, there was general acknowledgement that compliance was high across the region with the majority of the public adhering to the guidelines and taking all the necessary steps in order to keep each other safe.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney said the region faced challenges as a result of the variance in the lifting of restrictions but that he was confident people on both sides of the border were acting responsibly.

He thanked the public for their commitment and support to date urging them to continue to make good decisions. As the restrictions are lifted gradually on both sides of the border, he said it is important everyone continues to act cautiously and adhere to the messages around social distancing, wearing face coverings and regular hand sanitisation.

He said: "The people of the North West have been amazing throughout this pandemic. They have rallied around one another and supported each other in difficult times. However, it's important that we understand that COVID hasn't gone away – it's still here and it's still spreading. It's still important that we don't let our guard down that we continue to look out for one another. There are small things we can do to protect each other – when we are out walking and see friends we must stand back and keep a distance, when we are going to the shops we must remember to take our face masks and our hand sanitiser and give other customers some space."

An Cathaoirleach Cllr Rena Donaghey acknowledged the huge amount of work being done by the two Councils, the statutory agencies and health bodies on both sides of the border. She said the strong partnership approach and collaborative work to respond to the COVID 19 numbers in the region was key in reducing the rate of infection. She said the roll out of the vaccination programmes was hugely positive in providing hope for the future and that all this was good news in providing support to businesses as the Councils work together to rebuild the NW economy.

"We are a region that relies on one another.

We have strong family and business connections and our lives are intertwined in everything that we do. It is important therefore in the days ahead and coming weeks and that we avoid attributing blame but work together towards a common goal of protecting our communities from this virus. The people of Donegal Derry and Strabane are one community, we look out for one another and support one another through thick and thin. Let's continue to do that and work together to keep each other safe so that we can look forward to a better future for all of us."

It was agreed at the meeting that the Councils and statutory agencies would continue to share information and work collectively in the weeks and months ahead as the North West region takes small cautious steps towards recovery.


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