Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Cable project 'will come to city'

Fibre optic cable
The Hibernia North Transatlantic cable is located 22 miles off the north coast

A controversial telecommunications hub will be located in Londonderry, Trade Minister Arlene Foster has said.

The 30m euro Project Kelvin was moved from Derry to Coleraine, but the location was reversed after a campaign by politicians and businessmen.

Mrs Foster said the "rising level of negativity" had endangered the project.

Businessman Philip O'Doherty, who campaigned for the "telehouse", said it would give the city a "huge advantage" in attracting investment.

"We now will have the fastest connectivity to North America of anywhere in Europe, so we will start with a huge advantage in terms of marketing points.

"I would call on the council now to keep the momentum going.

"We will be able to attract data centres that will bring foreign direct investment on the back of this telehouse announcement," he said.

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson said the announcement was highly significant.

"It demonstrates clearly that when we 'Stand up for Derry' with a united voice we can make change happen," she said.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan said the telehouse was a real victory for Derry.

"The business importance of the telehouse is absolutely significant, because the fact is that data centres and other businesses tend to gravitate around it," he said.

But Coleraine Ulster Unionist assembly member David McClarty said he was disappointed at what he described as the "negative" campaign in Derry.

"It's about job creation.

"Those jobs could be created anywhere in Northern Ireland and they would be available for all the citizens of Northern Ireland," he said.

"I just think it has been very very negative, and I think Coleraine has maintained a very dignified silence over the last number of weeks," he said.

The project to connect Northern Ireland with the Hibernia North Transatlantic cable, located 22 miles off the north coast, will improve the speed and extent to which firms can trade information with the rest of the world.

The fibre optic cable, a telecommunications link which runs along the seabed, connects North America with Europe.

It will interconnect with Northern Ireland's existing telecoms infrastructure as well as that of the Republic of Ireland.

'Pragmatic move'

Mrs Foster said Hibernia Atlantic's decision to located the telehouse in Derry was a "pragmatic move by the company to advance this project forward and retain the good business reputation of Northern Ireland across the globe".

"The rising level of negativity in Londonderry surrounding this project has created a real danger that the many benefits which Project Kelvin will deliver to local businesses and prospective investors would have been lost," said the DUP assembly member.

The minister said the "location of the telehouse, in the context of this project, is largely immaterial".

"The real benefits which will be delivered are the range of products and services which will be available at each of the eight points of presence located across Northern Ireland," she added.

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