The Chairperson of Friends of the Derry Walls (F.O.T.D.W.) has expressed disappointment at Derry City and Strabane District Council’s (D.C.S.D.C.) decision to reject a funding application made by the group.
F.O.T.D.W. applied to D.C.S.D.C. for funding to the value of £21.5k to assist them in the delivery of their annual Activity Plan for 2016/17.
The funding application was officially rejected at a meeting of the Environment and Regeneration Committee in the Guildhall on Wednesday.
A council official explained that D.C.S.D.C. was unable to approve the funding request as “at present there are no D.C.S.D.C. mainstream budgets/competitive processes to which the F.O.T.D.W. could apply for direct financial assistance.”
It was also proposed at the meeting that council officers would assist F.O.T.D.W. in securing funds for the Derry Walls Day in August by collobarating on a joint application to the Irish Walled Towns Network (I.W.T.N.).
Council officers estimate that a successful funding application to the I.W.T.N. could see F.O.T.D.W. secure funding to the value of £6k (maximum) for the event.
Although the funding application was turned down the committee did however agree to help F.O.T.D.W. with a separate project, the restoration of the plinth at the Royal Bastion on the Walls.
F.O.T.D.W. Chairperson, Dr. Anne McCartney, urged to committee to permit the group to be allowed to explain in detail the F.O.T.D.W.’s ethos.
“We are disappointed to learn that, to date, D.C.S.D.C. have not agreed to support F.O.T.D.W. volunteers and their activity plan,.”
“There appears to be some misunderstanding about what we are and how we wish to enhance the understanding and experience of the largest heritage and tourism asset in the city and region.
“We feel that, if councillors were agreeable, a presentation on the F.O.T.D.W. and our proposed activity plan would be useful to help everyone understand the importance of the Walls as we quickly approach the important 400th anniversary of the completion of their construction in 2018,” added Dr. McCartney.
F.O.T.D.W. member, Mark Lusby, attended Wednesday’s meeting and afterwards conveyed his disappointment at the decision.
“Whilst the offer of in-kind support from D.C.S.D.C. is much appreciated, I think this year will be the first year since 2004 that the Council has not made any financial provision for the annual Derry Walls Day and certainly the first since year since 2013 that the Council will not be financially involved in supporting Walls400, the five-year Quadricentennial of the building of the Walls, from 1613-1618,” said Mr. Lusby.