Benefits of US event to be looked at

SDLP Councillor, Martin Reilly.
SDLP Councillor, Martin Reilly.

Derry City Council has ordered an evaluation of the benefits reaped from a US conference before committing more than £10,000 on a return trip.

Derry City Council has been approached to participate in the Golden Bridges event in Boston, scheduled for October 2014.

Several representatives from the local authority attended the same conference back in October 2012.

Council officers at the July meeting of the Development Committee this week asked councillors for permission to scope out the potential for attending the coming event, and to look at the resources required. A council officer in a report brought before the committee stated that the Golden Bridges “focuses on bringing together key diaspora linkages in business/ tourism between Northern Ireland and North America.”

The committee was told that the cost of involvement to Derry is likely to be £10,000, with additional costs for staff attending the conference.

The report recommended that “a clear and focused strategy targeting key business and tourism linkages must be planned prior to attending the Golden Bridges Conference”.

It states that a strategy looking at the development potential of taking part was still at an early stage.

Sinn Fein Councillor Eric McGinley said that an evaluation on how the last trip went was needed, to feed into the proposal being brought before the committee.

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly meanwhile said that the council should also “make the connection with our neighbours in Donegal to see if they are interested in participating”, while also looking to see what could be done to share the “new story” on the city and region with Boston’s large Irish-American community.

A council officer confirmed that representatives from Donegal County Council would be attending and confirmed that there would be discussions with them.