Unity of Purpose was established to facilitate dialogue across the statutory, community, voluntary and private business sectors in October 2010.
Unity of Purpose recognised that people from different backgrounds and sectors have strong, passionately held and often diametrically opposing views on how to best serve the interests of the city and its people. We were not asking any group or individual to give up their passionately held view or positions. Indeed we wanted to hear strong voices and welcomed strong and clear leadership that would help to successfully transform the social and economic life of this city and region. We also did not envisage a situation where people would be expected to set aside core values or principles or give tacit support to some woolly and selective initiatives benefiting only a narrow section of society. Quite the opposite, we envisaged a situation where individuals and organisations would bring the full rigour of their sectors to the table ensuring the rights and needs of their respective interests were being taken forward in whatever programmes and initiatives arose from the common interests and shared approaches required to regenerate this city in a way that would bring benefit to all its citizens especially the most excluded and marginalised.
The years 2010/11 delivered some momentous achievements for the city beginning with the release of the Saville Report into Bloody Sunday and the declaration of innocence of all of the victims killed and injured on that awful day. In 2011 the city was awarded the first ever UK City of Culture (2013) status opening up a wealth of opportunities and positioning Derry~Londonderry as one of the leading and most iconic cultural cities of Western Europe. The City of Culture bid arose as one of the central themes of the Regeneration Plan poised to transform the city as a shared city of one voice meeting the physical, social, and economic needs of every citizen into the Year 2020 and beyond. However, 2010/11 were also the years of deepening economic crisis brought about by an international banking scandal that has rocked Western economies. These were also the years in which Derry~Londonderry witnessed an upsurge in politically motivated violence and increased capability of armed groups opposed to the Good Friday Agreement. While it was the case that such groups did not have the capacity to reverse the political gains of recent years they did and continue to pose a threat to the peace process and to the realisation of the many hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of people of this city and region for economic growth and social transformation – a goal shared by the many diverse cultures and backgrounds that make up the population of this city and district.
This tension between hope for a forward-looking future and concern about being dragged back to the violent conflict of the past prompted a number of concerned people in the business and community sectors to mobilise city-wide support for a better future for all and an end to armed conflict as a means to achieving political goals.
Therefore the series of meetings with political and civic leaders from all walks of life including political parties, public service providers, private business, community, churches and trade unions are being held to discuss concerns and secure agreement for a common shared position for a forward-looking city and region.
The Unity of Purpose meetings that have taken place since then show that without exception the people of this city share a deep-felt concern for the wellbeing of all people and a common interest in improving our future life together. The group meet monthly and they discuss any item that it is felt is pertinent to Derry~Londonderry.