Move to bring Fleadh back to Derry for 2017 and 2018

Some of those who packed into Waterloo Street during Fleadh Cheoil back in 2013. INLS3413-189KM

Some of those who packed into Waterloo Street during Fleadh Cheoil back in 2013. INLS3413-189KM

  • Politicians unite to see Fleadh return
  • City hosted Fleadh for first time in 2013
  • New bid made for 2017 & 2018
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Nationalist and unionist councillors in Derry have voted to begin a process which could see the return of the All-Ireland Fleadh to the city in 2017 and 2018.

The SDLP’s Martin Reilly has proposed that the council chief John Kelpie “engage with Comhaltas and other city partners to support the bid for Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann to be held in Derry again”.

The matter was raised at the February monthly meeting of the new Derry-Strabane supercouncil. Out of the 38 councillors present for the vote, 37 voted to adopt the motion, with Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly abstaining.

Speaking in the Guildhall. Colr. Reilly said the 2013 Fleadh had been “momentous not just for the city and region but for the Fleadh itself “.

He elaborated that the event in Derry had brought 400,000 people onto the streets of Derry- making the first Fleadh north of the border the biggest in its 60-year history.

Sinn Fein Councillor Elisha McCallion said they would be “delighted” to support the motion, and proposed the council seek a presentation from the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann “who brought the Fleadh to Derry in 2013, to ascertain their plans and progress thus far to bring the Fleadh back and how this Council can assist any bid in the future”.

The council agreed with her suggestion that the presentation be brought before the next full Council.

UUP Councillor Derek Hussey’s suggestion of an amendment to the motion wording to include ‘Londonderry and the wider district area’ was seconded by the DUP’s Drew Thompson.

Martin Reilly suggested that, in the spirit of inclusivity, this become ‘Londonderry-Derry-Doire’, which Colr. Hussey said he had no problem with.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly, however, expressed concerns. He said: “On the previous occassion when the Fleadh was brought to Derry, politicial pressure was brought to bear on a process which should have been neutral”.He abstained from the vote on the final version of the motion. All other councillors voted for it.

Fleadh Cheoil na h�ireann - Doire '13. Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

Fleadh Cheoil na h�ireann - Doire '13. Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

In a recent report commissioned by Comhaltas Ceoltóiriί Éireann and released two months ago, it emerged that the 2013 event generated “substantial economic benefits” for Derry and the wider North West region.

It’s estimated that this could have amounted to as much as £42 million.

The report also states that the Fleadh in Derry had been instrumental in progressing comunity relations through the inclusion and participation of Protestant flute bands and other artists and musicians from the unionist tradition.

Organisers described the Fleadh in Derry as the ‘biggest ever’ back in 2013 and director General of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Labhrás Ó Múrchu, said at the time that the festival was likely to return.

Organisers described the Fleadh in Derry as the ‘biggest ever’ back in 2013 and director General of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Labhrás Ó Múrchu, said at the time that the festival was likely to return.

Speaking as the festival drew to an end, the PSNI said at the time that they would fully support a bid to have the event return to the city.

The then police chief for the city said the number of arrests had been extremely low.