British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is lining up a visit to Derry to celebrate its culture year.
Details of the visit have yet to be confirmed but Mr. Miliband has indicated to Foyle MP Mark Durkan that it will happen.
The news comes just days after the ‘Journal’ revealed that British prime minister David Cameron is expected to visit the 2013 City of Culture before the end of the year.
Mark Durkan, meanwhile, has ensured that all 650 MPs at Westminster are fully aware of this year’s exciting programme of City of Culture events. In fact, he has personally invited each and every one of them to visit Derry during 2013 and experience “its unique atmosphere and famous warm welcome.”
In conjunction with the Culture Company, Mr Durkan arranged for copies of the recently printed second edition of the 2013 City of Culture Programme to be delivered to Westminster along with an accompanying personal letter inviting them to visit the city.
Among those MPs who have already responded to the invitation are John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, who said he was sure the year-long series of events “will be hugely successful” and will “set very high standards for future City of Culture bidders.”
Welsh MP Paul Flynn, in a letter to Mr. Durkan, hailed the programme as “great”, adding that he hoped to visit the city during the celebrations.
Mark Durkan told the ‘Journal’: “I have been struck by the number of MPs who were asking about Derry as the City of Culture - some of them because of interest in their own cities in the second bidding round; others because of their own interest in Irish affairs or particular cultural sectors. Indeed, some, too, have picked up via the media on the ‘Sons and Daughters’ concert or ‘Other Voices’.
“Sharing the second edition of the programme for the year seemed to me to be a good way of responding to that genuine interest and adding to the invitation which the year offers. It is clear from the feedback already that people are impressed with the range and quality of the programme. All seem enthused by the extensive, diverse and inclusive prospectus reflected in our City of Culture programme.
“I have extended an invitation to them to come and experience Derry’s unique atmosphere and famous warm welcome.”