Derry will still stay ‘Irish’ City of Culture

Derry traditional musician Karen Carlin performing in Cult�rlann U� Chan�in. (0810MM05)
Derry traditional musician Karen Carlin performing in Cult�rlann U� Chan�in. (0810MM05)

Derry’s political leaders have reiterated their support for bringing the All-Ireland Fleadh to Derry in 2013.

The call was made amid fears that Derry’s bid to host the major music and cultural festival could fail because of objections from a number of Derry branches of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann who do not want the festival staged during the City of Culture year as they object to the ‘UK’ title.

Outgoing MLA Martina Anderson who was returned to Foyle.  (1005jB05)

Outgoing MLA Martina Anderson who was returned to Foyle. (1005jB05)

The Derry County Board of Comhaltas met on Wednesday night to discuss the bid but the meeting ended without agreement after five hours and will reconvene on January 18 to see if an accord can be reached.

If the bid gets the approval of the county board, it will be passed to the Ulster Council of Comhaltas and if it is ratified there it will go before the group’s ard comhairle, who will make a final decision which will be announced on January 28.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “I strongly support the bid for Derry to hold Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2013.

“Along with the representatives of other parties, sectors and bodies I took part in the civic panel which met Comhaltas representatives in Derry in late November.

“The world standing and renowned quality of the Fleadh is due of course to the work and values of Comhaltas na hÉireann.

“In all my support for this bid I am particularly sensitive to the integrity of Comhaltas’s ethos and procedures and the understandable sensitivity to protect their ownership of the Fleadh wherever it might be hosted.”

Junior Minister and Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson also gave her support to the bid and called on all those involved to think of the benefits it will bring to the city.

“Everyone who is proud of the Irishness of our City, while at the same time respecting the cultural diversity within it, needs to cooperate to ensure that it is portrayed throughout the world as the City of Irish Cultural and historical significance that it is.

“If successful in their objections the small minority opposed to this bid will be self-defeating as without a strong Irish Cultural flavour to the events they will only succeed in allowing our historic Irish City to be portrayed throughout the world as a ‘City of U.K. Culture’ devoid of Irishness.

“The only way to neutralise the U.K. prefix – which I doubt if anyone outside of here will take any notice of - is to take ownership of the project by making sure that the events that will make an impact on the world stage are those reflecting the reality that this is an ‘Irish City of Culture’ regardless of working titles or tags,” Ms Anderson said.

The organisers of the bid, the Derry city branch of Comhaltas, have said they are committed to ensuring the success of the bid and have pledged to work towards a positive outcome.