Just flew in from the windy city

Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography
Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

To say the last month has been busy would be an understatement but I’ve always believed if you are not busy you must be doing something wrong, so no complaints from me.

Continuing his series of monthly columns, Derry’s mayor Kevin Campbell talks about a successful trip to Chicago, the ploughing championships, Derry’s preparations for its year of Culture and of course Hallowe’en.

To say the last month has been busy would be an understatement but I’ve always believed if you are not busy you must be doing something wrong, so no complaints from me.

Derry, of course, has had too many periods of not being busy but for me the last four weeks are a positive vindication of the city coming together, taking pride in itself and putting its best foot forward.

The preparations for the launch of the City of Culture – which I will return to in next month’s article - the on-going work in promoting the city as a place to live, work and invest in and of course the planning and preparations for Europe’s biggest and best Halloween party have all made the last month fly. If truth be told I was almost too busy to write this piece, and but for the timely reminder I received it probably wouldn’t be here today. But I got the reminder and the piece is here.

So what have I been up to? Well, one highlight was definitely my attendance at the IBAM in Chicago, where we were promoting Derry and the City of Culture to a global audience. IBAM - Irish Books Arts and Music Festival is an annual event held in Chicago that attracts more than 6,000 visitors to celebrate the best in Irish Culture and heritage. Derry was the main focus of the organizations programme of events this year and I’m confident our attendance in Chicago has successfully increased awareness of the city and the exciting events planned during 2013.

I was one of a number of people from the city who travelled to Chicago to promote the city, tell its story and encourage the Irish diaspora in Chicago to tell the world about Derry and a make a date to come back and visit the city.

The trip was a really worthwhile exercise and the delegation – consisting of Culture Company representatives, the PSNI, the City Centre Initiative, and members of the local community and voluntary sector - made a concerted joint effort to showcase all that is good about Derry.

iBAM is a huge event in Chicago and while we were there we were given so many opportunities to network and market our city. The feedback we received from the public was extremely positive and people were genuinely really excited to hear about the city and how it is progressing into a new phase of opportunity and celebration. They were very impressed with the partnership approach to our work and the fact that the delegation had representation from across the community, voluntary and corporate sector and religious and social backgrounds. We did a lot of excellent work on the ground making sure people were well informed to spread the news about Derry and how 2013 will be a fantastic year for the city.

During the month I also attended the 69th NI ploughing Championships and the 29th reversible championships. This was the first time it was held in Derry and was launched by Martin McGuinness at Drumahoe. I attended two days of the event and was with Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill the Saturday as well. I have to confess that as a townie, and a Creggan man, I was slightly amazed at the massive attendance, with more than 20,000 people turning up for the weekend. This was a great event and was a great boost for the rural economy.

Obviously since I was talking to Michelle O’Neill I also want to welcome the decentralisation of jobs by the Minister of Agriculture to the North West.

This will give a great boost to the local economy in the rural area and particularly in and around Ballykelly.

I was also invited by the Apprentices Boys to the launch of their plans for the refurbishment of the hall and the building of the Heroes of the Siege Museum.

This has always been a period of our city’s history that I’ve been interested in and its good to see another element of the city’s history being told. I’m sure that the good working relationship that exists between the Apprentice Boys and the Museum of Free Derry will intime ensure that the unique and amazing history of our city is told in full. As a Sinn Féin Mayor I was delighted to attend this event and be a mayor for everyone.

By the time you read this Halloween will have come and gone but as I’m writing it beforehand I am sure that once again Derry will have a night to remember. Just off to get my costume.