A leading figure in Derry’s City of Culture team has claimed this is Inishowen’s time to capitalise on the “traditional link” between the city and the peninsula.
Kevin McGovern, who was involved in Derry’s 2013 City of Culture bid from the beginning, said Inishowen can’t “miss the opportunity” to benefit from the city’s success as there is “no closer neighbour than Buncrana and Inishowen”.
Speaking at a meeting of Buncrana Town Council on Wednesday evening, Mr McGovern said the main priority of the City of Culture team was to ensure Derry and the whole North West benefited from the event.
“We have an opportunity here to put Buncrana and Inishowen back on the map, the way it used to be years ago. It is critical that businesses in the North West benefit and make a contribution.
“It it no secret that Derry is short of beds, and with there expected to be a huge increase in overnight stays, the alternative for people is to stay in hotels in Inishowen - a place where as recently been referred to as Derry beach front.”
Mr McGovern, originally from Derry but now living in Buncrana, said he was pleasantly surprised to discover the work that was already ongoing in Inishowen.
“It is up to us to put ideas in front of the City of Culture team, its great to see there will be a dedicated post within Inishowen tourism to work with the COC. We have to come up with our own ideas and take advantage, but it is a very positive start to take a person, who is backed by this Council and whose sole responsibility is to work with them and develop project.
The former town planner said it is important the people within City of Culture know how Inishowen is performing and if there is growth to be had.
“This is a golden opportunity when the spotlight will be on this part of the island. We need to highlight the tourism assets in the area, such as Dunree Fort, Kinnego Bay, Ballyliffin Golf Club, the Crana Bridge and many more. Inishowen has some of the best landscape in the country and with that in contrast with the city is a story we really need to drive home. You are part of the party going on twenty minutes up the road.”
He added: “The North of the country has suffered economically for years, and now it is time to cash in on this opportunity - Buncrana can be part of the success, but now is the time to move to make things happen.”
The Buncrana Town Councillors thanked Mr McGovern for his insightful presentation.
Chairperson of Inishowen tourism and Independent councillor Lee Tedstone said there was no truer words spoken than ‘this is our time’.
“I’m passionate about this and I have the belief the City of Culture will bring opportunities to Inishowen, but if we don’t do something now, it’ll come and go and we’ll miss it.”
Councillor Peter McLaughlin said: “We now have a job to do and we need to put things forward to highlight what we do have.”
Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran McLaughlin added: “We see things everyday and maybe we don’t take it all in, but this is a fantastic possibility for Buncrana and Inishowen, but we need to get on board right now.”
Ballyliffin man and Independent councillor Michael Grant claimed it the City of Culture was a massive for the whole community, where as Fianna Fail councillor James Gill said it was time to stage the plans to the next stage.