Over the last couple of days, I have noticed a few posters being put up around the Bogside bearing the slogan “UK No Way”. I can only assume these are being put up by a tiny number of individuals who are opposed to the City of Culture status that is prefixed by two letters.
As this group has no spokesperson or mandate, I am curious what exactly it is that offends them. Is it simply those two letters “UK”? Or is it the affiliation to the United Kingdom? Do they fear that by adopting and acknowledging our links with the UK, that we as Derry people have somehow sold out?
I am not a spokesperson for the City of Culture people. I am, however, a supporter.
I wonder do the people who are promoting this negativity have full-time jobs? If so, then is their employment being subsidised or part-funded by the UK Government through Tax Credits?
Our politicians proudly promote this city as a low wage economy in order to attract investment. With the economy being as it is, we are in no position to negotiate this, and have to “Take what we can get”.
I don’t for one minute believe that in order for us to receive funding from the UK for this accolade, we must all now swear allegiance to the crown, dress like Ginger Spice and only present art forms that are inaccessible to the majority of people of this city.
Veteran republicans, such as Brendan Behan, Sean O Casey, even Bobby Sands, are also accomplished writers. I think it would be wonderful if we could use this opportunity to promote their work, just as one small piece of a larger year-long festival. I also would like to see our own writers, actors, singers, musicians, dancers and generally everyone involved in the arts scene in Derry being allowed to promote their work internationally, without fear or intimidation.
Attracting jobs and tourism to this city should NOT be seen as a bad thing. If it is, then I wonder what we’ll have to boycott next? Crown Buildings, the Post Office, the Inland Revenue or even Radio Foyle (it is part of the British Broadcasting Corporation)?
I’m quite sure these protesters would never dream of taking advantage of the benefits system that other UK residents avail of, such as Income support, NHS, or DLA. I personally will take Great British pounds from anyone that wants to give them to me, and I won’t complain. And if in the course of doing so I am promoting the Arts and Culture of this city, then I don’t for one minute feel my national identity, patriotism or love for this city has been compromised.