Foyle Maritime Festival drew 163,000 visits to the quayside

Fireworks during the Voyage of Sunniva, the Foyle Maritime Festival Finale. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Fireworks during the Voyage of Sunniva, the Foyle Maritime Festival Finale. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Over 160,000 visits were made to Derry’s quayside over the course of the Foyle Maritime Festival , Derry & Strabane Council Chief Executive john Kelpie has said.

Mr Kelpie also said that it was the Council’s intention to continue to run the festival every two years.

He was speaking at the Full Council’s July meeting at the Guildhall on Thursday.

Mayor of Derry & Strabane Hilary McClintock opened the discussions by stating that the Maritime Festival and Clipper events staged in Derry had been “very successful”.

“I want to on your behalf, and on behalf of the citizens, thank all those played a part,” she said, praising Council officers, the street cleansing department, local businesses, stall holders, the arts and cultural sector, St John’s Ambulance and the general public among others for pulling together to ensure the festival was a hit.

“We were relatively incident free during that fortnight,” Mayor McClintock said, and also praised Mr Kelpie, whom she said “pulled together all the various pieces of that jigsaw”.

“We really have a lasting legacy in this city and I am sure like me you are proud of what we did in this council area this last fortnight.”

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly agreed that the event was “again a wonderful occasion for the city”, and said that the opportunity was grasped “to enjoy all that the River Foyle has to offer”.

“I think it is incumbent upon our council that led on Clipper from the start that this festival is able to be continued in our city.”

Colr. Reilly said the festival had contributed to the general well being of local people and engendered a sense of real pride as well as promoting people getting more active. “Given that we are going into recess, between now and when we return council officers have the mandate from this chamber to go and engage with other government bodies, the private sector and also our own council resources to ensure this event is repeated again.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Elisha McCallion concurred with what had already been said, but added that the Council needed to be careful “we are not just branding this a ‘Clipper Festival’.

“It is a Maritime Festival, which brings in Clipper.”

Colr. McCallion added that it was important the Council “engage not just with Clipper Ventures but with anything else out there that can contribute to ensure the Maritime Festival is an annual event”.

She further pledged her party’s “absolute support” for the continuation of the festival on the quay.

Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly said it had been really great to see Foyle being utilised to full effect, but said there was an issue with people in rural areas and from Strabane accessing the events. He asked that in light of this a plan be drawn up for future Maritime festivals to improve accessibility.

UUP Councillor Derek Hussey said he fully endorsed the desire for a continuation of the festival, and welcomed Colr. O’Reilly’s suggestion.

Tens of thousands had throned the quayside and the city centre each day during the Clipper festival to peruse the International and Walled City markets, check out the fleet of ships and sea crafts, learn more about sailing, kayaking and the marine life on the Foyle.

There was also a packed programme of children’s events, live music concerts and live cooking demonstrations, while tens of thousands turned out for the arrival and departure of the Clipper Fleet as well as the Voyage of Sunniva festival finale.

Mr Kelpie said there had been a “huge amount of external partners”, without whom the festival would not have been possible.

“163,000 visits were made along the quay during the 10-12 day event,” he said, adding that Council officers were now working with central government and the private sector to look at taking the festival forward into the future.