Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott has called on a local grammar school to abandon its plan to drop the word ‘Londonderry’ from its name.
The move by Foyle and Londonderry College to become known simply as ‘Foyle College’ has prompted an angry response from some pupils and parents.
A petition has been launched in an attempt to halt the name change.
Mr Elliott, speaking after a meeting with school officials to discuss the move, said: “Having had the opportunity to discuss the future naming of Foyle and Londonderry College with both school representatives and concerned members of the community, I find myself sympathising strongly with the views expressed by those who wish to retain the name.
“While I appreciate that the re-branding of products and places on occasions takes place, I do not believe that the removal of the title would lead to any major developments or benefits.
“Indeed, in recent times, an extensive campaign took place against the proposal to change the name of Londonderry city to Derry, highlighting the strong attachment many people within the community feel to the name.”
Mr Elliott said the school should hold a formal consultation with pupils and their parents.
Foyle MLA Willie Hay, of the DUP, has also called on the college’s board of governors to “revisit” their decision, which he said was made following insufficient consultation with parents.
However, the chairman of the school’s board of governors, Robin Young, says the school’s main focus is now on securing a long-awaited move to Clooney.
The name change, he insisted, was now “set in stone”.