Politicians and those dead less than 3 years won’t be honoured

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A new policy on the naming of Derry City & Strabane District Council sports facilities, which may be extended to all Council assets after a six-month trial, will prohibit buildings being named after political figures.

The draft policy was approved by members of council’s Governance & Strategic Planning Committee after a working group was established to set criteria for the naming of council assets.

The group was formed last year in response to calls for the new Brandywell to be named in honour of the late Derry City defender Ryan McBride who passed away at the age of 27 on March 19, 2017.

There were concerns that the McBride proposal could have had wider implications for the council and that some preparatory work was needed. At the G&SP meeting this week the council’s lead democratic services officer Ellen Cavanagh, advised a recommendation was being made to pilot the new policy, restricted to the naming of council sports facilities, which after six months may be extended to other council-owned buildings, changed or scrapped altogether.

She said the working group, which included councillors Patricia Logue, Martin Reilly, Sean Carr and aldermen Hilary McClintock and Derek Hussey, had agreed assets could not be named after a “political/government representative”, a “living person”, or someone who had “passed away less than three years prior to the naming proposal being submitted”. The McBride proposal was exempted from the latter qualification because it pre-dated the drafting of the policy.

Derek Hussey of the UUP, a member of both the committee and the working group, proposed that the draft policy be approved.

Colr. Patricia Logue, however, who sat on the working group but is not a member of the committee, said that after further discussions within Sinn Féin she believed the exclusion of political figures was “shortsighted”, citing the example of Nelson Mandela House as a way in which a political legacy could be positively remembered.

She also said the next of kin of a deceased citizen should have the ultimate say on whether or not naming proposal goes ahead regardless of how long they had been dead.

The DUP’s Hilary McClintock, who was on the working group but not the committee, said she thought it “was a bit disappointing” Colr. Logue was objecting at this stage having discussed the matter over the past month and a half. The policy was approved unanimously after a Sinn Féin amendment proposing politicians should not be excluded fell.