Hold work on gallery, say campaign group

The chairman of the Action Committee set up to save the gallery at Ebrington said they’ve now written to Ilex to try and stop planned alterations at the gallery, Buildings 80-81.

Maurice Harron, the internationally-known sculptor, said it’s vital that the climate control and security equipment is not ripped out while the future of the gallery is being discussed.

Mr Harron and other representatives of the Action Committee held a meeting on Wednesday with the Mayor Martin Reilly and Derry City Council’s 2013 ‘legacy’ officer Una McGillion.

Mr Harron said he was encouraged by the meeting.

“We got a very warm reception,” he said. “It seems to be they see the huge benefit this gallery could be to the city.”

Mr Harron said the immediate priority was to stall plans to have contractors move in on Monday February 3rd to turn the international-class gallery into a ‘Creative Hub’.

Ilex, the regeneration company with responsibility for Buildings 80-81, once again referred to the hub in a statement yesterday evening.

Ilex said: ““In recent weeks Ilex has met a number of parties interested in the development of a gallery project at Ebrington.

“Ilex remains open to discussions in relation to viable propositions which fit with the Creative Industries Hub. The Creative Hub remains on schedule for completion in April of this year.”

Action Committee members present at the meeting with the Mayor and Una McGillion also included former Thornhill principal Sarah Kelly; the former head of art at St Columb’s College Malachy McGonagle; Noelle McAlinden, who sits on the board of the Arts Council; and another well-known former Thornhill teacher Martin Bradley.

Declan McGonagle, the head of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, is also on the committee. He’s expected to attend their next meeting, which is being held tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Harron said the gallery at Ebrington presented a marvellous opportunity for the city. His own view was that it should now be taken over by the City Council, who could appoint a board of trustees to oversee its development.