Derry & Strabane Council is to lobby rugby bodies and governments north and south to host fixtures locally if Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup proves successful.
SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney proposed the move at the monthly meeting of Derry & Strabane’s Full Council meeting, and asked the council to formally relay its support for the Ireland bid.
Colr Tierney said: “Hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup would be a fantastic coup for Ireland and having Derry included as a venue would bring international media attention to our city and region.
“We have a history of delivering large-scale events and Derry’s inclusion as a host venue in 2023 would further enhance our reputation. We have delivered City of Culture, showcased the most successful Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and our Halloween celebrations have achieved world renown. We have a proven record of delivery and we can use that experience and the city’s enthusiasm to bring the World Cup to the North West.
“Hosting such a prestigious event would generate fantastic media coverage. Images of the Walls, Peace Bridge and the Bogside Murals would be broadcast across the globe and we cannot put a value on such exposure.
“It would also bring tens of thousands of rugby fans to our city that will all spend money in local hotels, shops, bars and restaurants. The anticipated economic windfall could be in the region of £70m.”
Councillor Tierney concluded: “We support Derry’s inclusion in Ireland’s bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The economic and cultural benefits are immense and we hope our proposal gains the support of the entire Council.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Eric McGinley commended the GAA for offering the use of Celtic Park, adding that at last week’s meeting there allowed rugby officials the chance to hear first hand what the area had.
Colr. McGinley said that in the first instance the council should be supporting the bid.
DUP Councillor David Ramsey said it was clear sporting events created more room nights and events such as the Rugby World Cup would provide a welcome boost to the local economy.
“We have to make every effort to ensure this happens,” he said.
UUP Councillor Derek Hussey said he hoped City of Derry and Strabane Rugby Clubs would be factored in and felt the benefit of any such fixtures.
A Council officer has said that they have started to pull together material along with Visit Derry to support the bid application.
The motion was passed unanimously.