Derry to Kerry: Mayor leading group to the Kingdom

Kerry. Derek Cullen Photo (Failte Ireland).
Kerry. Derek Cullen Photo (Failte Ireland).
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The Mayor is expected to lead a delegation from the local council to Tralee as part of a tourism mission to strengthen ties between the two regions.

Mayor of Derry & Strabane Elisha McCallion will be joined on the trip to the heart of Kerry by Chairman of the Business and Culture Committee, SDLP Councillor Gerard Diver and a council officer.

A proposal from the DUP Councillor David Ramsey that the delegation should include someone from the unionist block was rejected by the majority of councillors.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack stating that those already involved in the trip would represent thew whole of Derry & Strabane, while Sinn Fein Councillor Maoliosa McHugh said that it was time people started looking at the local population as one community.

The Mayor of Tralee- home of the famous Rose of Tralee competition- and Kerry County Council have invited the Derry Mayor a number of Councillors to the ‘Kingdom’.

The Derry contingent will form part of a delegation to explore closer economic and cultural ties between the two regions.

Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh. 'Photo By : Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus LTD.  www.dwalshphoto.com.

Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh. 'Photo By : Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus LTD. www.dwalshphoto.com.

Derry City & Strabane District Council’s director of development Stephen Gillespie told Tuesday’s meeting of the Business & Culture Committee at the Guildhall that this was an exploratory meeting and “at this point there are no concrete proposals”.

“The Mayor is keen that we continue the dialogue with Tralee to explore areas of mutual benefit,” he said.

Council officers had recommended the committee approve spaces for the Mayor, one officer and a maximum of four Councillors to attend the meeting in Tralee to explore further the opportunities for economic and cultural links between the two councils.

The overall cost for the trip and accommodation comes to a maximum £2,000, and will come from within existing budgets.

Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, third from right, pictured at a reception held in her honour in the White Horse Hotel, Derry some time ago with, from left, Liz Horshi, former Mayor Brenda Stevenson, Issam Horshi, Managing Director, White Horse Hotel, Katie Dobson, Derry Rose, Denise White, something Special, and Ramona Wylie, Financial Director, White Horse Hotel. DER0415-130KM

Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, third from right, pictured at a reception held in her honour in the White Horse Hotel, Derry some time ago with, from left, Liz Horshi, former Mayor Brenda Stevenson, Issam Horshi, Managing Director, White Horse Hotel, Katie Dobson, Derry Rose, Denise White, something Special, and Ramona Wylie, Financial Director, White Horse Hotel. DER0415-130KM

Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue said that three people- the Mayor, chair and officer- should be sufficient and would halve costs to the public purse.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack said they were happy enough with this suggestion and asked what the trip will involve.

Her party colleague and Committee chairman Gerry Diver said: “Obviously tourism is a massive issue in that part of the island so the purpose is that’s an area of comparation on the work that an be done.”

He added that the abundance of tourism and other initiatives in the Kerry area had a positive impact on the economy.

Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Elisha McCallion. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 01.04.15

Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Elisha McCallion. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 01.04.15

UUP Councillor Derek Hussey questioned if the process was losing out by not being cross-community, and said that this could be sorted out by the inclusion of the Deputy Mayor, DUP Councillor Thomas Kerrigan, on the trip.

Colr. Diver responded that it would be unusual for both Mayor and Deputy to attend the same area.

Colr. McHugh said: “It is time we stepped up to the plate and thought about ‘the community’, not ‘two communities’.”

Colr. Logue’s proposal for a three person delegation was carried, with nine voting for it and four against.

This came after Colr. Ramsey’s proposal that the unionist block put forward one person was rejected with nine votes against and four for it.