A new bridge linking divided communities in Derry will be a catalyst for change in the city, Martin McGuinness has said.
Stormont’s Deputy First Minister, who hails from the city, joined the North's First Minister Peter Robinson and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the official opening of the 235 metre ’Peace Bridge’ across the River Foyle.
Linking the predominantly Catholic city centre to the largely Protestant Waterside, Mr McGuinness said the foot and cycle bridge was an example of how his home city was changing.
“This bridge will be a catalyst for change that will help transform the city and the local community,” he said.
“While the bridge alone will not solve all our problems, it gives us a real opportunity for change. Change cannot happen without the full support of us all. So it is up to you, me, my colleagues in the Executive and the Assembly to continue to work positively together to build upon the good work that has already been done -recognising that differences still exist but respecting those differences.”
Six hundred school children from both main religious faiths sang at event.
The snaking structure across the Foyle was funded to the tune of £14.6m by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which supports projects to bring together divided communities.
EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.
The bridge runs from behind the Guildhall Square on the city side on to the parade ground in the former Ebrington Barracks on the Waterside.
Mr Kenny added: “It is a great honour to be here to participate in the opening of this wonderful new Peace Bridge.
“Whether you call it Derry, Londonderry or Doire, this is a place much beloved by all who live here, and much admired by all who visit.
“This bridge is a remarkable addition to what is already one of the most beautiful and historic cities in these islands.
“It is remarkable not just as an example of beautiful design, but as a powerful symbol of movement away from a troubled past, towards a brighter future full of opportunity.”
The ribbon cutting was the highlight of a weekend of celebrations in the city to mark the new link.