Ilex defends Peace Bridge opening costs

The opening of Derry's Peace Bridge last year was a gala event.
The opening of Derry's Peace Bridge last year was a gala event.

Derry’s regeneration company Ilex has defended the cost of last year’s opening ceremony of the city’s Peace Bridge.

The figure was revealed in response to a question put to the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

Foyle SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said he was shocked at the £263,410 cost.

“I had concerns that the opening of the Peace Bridge did not reflect the best possible value for money for our local ratepayers and unfortunately these concerns have been proved true,” he said.

“I’m calling on Derry City Council and ILEX and the Culture Company to put together a work programme to ensure that local companies have the capacity to apply and compete for tenders.

“We will be contacting Invest NI to make sure that companies are fully aware of all contracts currently out for tender.

“This was a wonderful occasion celebrating a wonderful structure that all the people of Derry are rightly proud of. The benefits of the Peace Bridge will be felt well into the future. But we must learn from this and ensure that similar events in the city in the future are afforded the greatest level of value for money for our ratepayers.”

Caiomhin Corrigan, cultural broker with ILEX, said the final bill was justified.

“I think this was good value for money. I would rather we were more ambitious and spent more on events. Culture is a key game changer for this city.

“£50,000 alone is spent on health and safety. There is a required spend. That is quite conservative in some repects,” he said.

Meanwhile, it’s been revealed that more than half a million people have crossed the £14 million bridge since it opened in June of last year.

Ilex says the total pedestrian and cycle movement on the bridge has now reached 550,000.

Matt McNulty, acting chairman of Ilex, said: “This shows just how popular the Peace Bridge has become. Since the opening of Ebrington Square in February, even greater numbers have crossed the bridge and our programme of events at Ebrington over the coming months will boost usage even more.

“The Peace Bridge has already become a tourist attraction in its own right. No trip to the city is complete without a walk or cycle on it”.”

The busiest day of the week for the bridge is Sunday, followed closely by Saturday, with the peak time at around 3 p.m.