April saw a number of linked events, which not just immediately impacted upon the City but will continue to do so well into the future. Three religious events, a visit by the Dalai Lama, the appointment of Monsignor Eamon Martin as coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh andthe Reverend David Latimer celebrating 25 years in the city.
The Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader, was visiting Derry at the invitation of Children in Crossfire. For all those present at the Culture of Compassion Conference there can be no doubt that this Holy man preached the important message of compassion and peace.
For David Latimer, his contribution to the City was marked by a service in the First Derry Presbyterian Church. I first met David last year when a team of us visited Chicago to attend the IBAM Festival to promote the city, especially the City of Culture year. Since then we have become very good friends and there is no doubt David has made his mark in the city. It was an honour to take part in the service as David has been to the forefront in fostering reconciliation. I wish him and his family all the best for the future.
The third religious event took place in Armagh when Derry’s own Eamon Martin was appointed as coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh. It was a very proud day not just for Monsignor Eamon Martin and his family and also for the people of this city who may have lost a great priest but have gained an Archbishop of Armagh.
On the economic front I hosted a breakfast for senior management of Seagate, including CEO Steve Luczo and other senior Executives. Seagate was celebrating being in Derry for 20 years. For all those years the city has reaped the benefits of sustained employment for many people here. This was a great occasion for us in Derry City Council to express our sincere thanks on behalf of the city to our largest employer, employing almost 1400 workers.
Once again Derry has produced two fantastic achievements in regards to the City of Culture year. On Sunday the 21st April St Patrick’s Primary School in Pennyburn won the, “BBC Junior School Choir of The Year.” This was a great achievement for St Patrick’s who lost out last year by the narrowest of margins however this year they won hands down and well done to them.
The second was the “Brides Across The Bridge” and once again Derry broke another Guinness World Record with almost 800 brides lining the Peace Bridge to raise money for a worthy charity “Foyle Hospice” well done to the ladies and the one brave man who are a credit to our city.
However April also saw a tragedy for the citizens of Boston when two bombs exploded at the finish of the marathon killing three and injuring hundreds of runners and spectators. In November, I was part of a Derry delegation who visited Boston for the Golden Bridges Conference. On hearing the news I immediately wrote to the Mayor of Boston, Thomas M Menino and to the President of the Senate Theresa Murray on behalf of the citizens of our city to express our sympathy and condolences on this tragic event.
“Our MEP Martina Anderson has invited Theresa Murray to Derry in May and I will be hosting a reception for her and will be expressing the sympathies of the city to her on this occasion in person.
“On the same day 31 people died in a bomb attack in Baghdad and other atrocities occurred across the globe which goes to highlight how precious our peace process is and how we must work every day together as a society to move it forward”.