Dalradian agrees to withdraw as sponsor of NW business awards
Dalradian has withdrawn as sponsor of the North West Business Awards following protests over its involvement in the gala event.
Last week Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly and People Before Profit’s Shaun Harkin and Eamonn McCann called for the goldminer to be dropped due to its prospecting ambitions in the Sperrins.
The issue was raised at the Derry City & Strabane District Council AGM on Monday when standing orders were suspended to allow for discussion of the matter.
Colr. Harkin initially proposed a motion calling for Dalradian to be dropped. But Colr. Donnelly, who met with event organiser City Centre Initiative (CCI) last Thursday, suggested that step might not have been necessary.
He said that having presented “a very strong case as to the reasons why Dalradian shouldn’t be permitted to be a sponsor” he understood the firm had already pulled out.
Both Business and Culture Director, Stephen Gillespie, and Sinn Féin Colr. Patricia Logue, confirmed this was the case and that Dalradian had withdrawn earlier on Monday.
Colr. Harkin insisted on putting his motion to the floor with his party colleague Colr. McCann stating: “The Council ought to put on record its opposition to the activities of Dalradian in the Sperrin mountains, activities which will damage the natural beauty of one of the most beautiful areas on the whole of this island.”
Both the SDLP’s Martin Reilly and Sinn Féin’s Dan Kelly said they had no issue with supporting the proposal having already passed a motion in January explicitly opposing Dalradian’s plans to “develop a gold mine and processing plant in the Sperrins and wider region”.
But DUP Colr. Hilary McClintock complained: “What saddens me about this, the very first meeting of a Council term, and we are already playing to the media about something that a senior officer has told us has been resolved.”
She described it as “gesture politics”.
Independent Colr. Paul Gallagher, however, said Colr. Harkin’s motion “did not go far enough” and proposed an amendment, that “given the corporate position of this Council, this Council opposes all sponsorship by Dalradian Gold of events in the Council area.”
This became the substantive motion and was passed with the support of Sinn Féin, SDLP, PBP, Alliance, Aontú and Independents with the DUP opposed and the UUP abstaining.
A spokesperson for CCI said: “We welcome Dalradian’s support of the awards and realise this difficult decision was made in the best interests of the overall awards and its nominees.”
Dalradian said: “Following discussions with the CCI both parties have agreed that Dalradian will withdraw its sponsorship of this year’s NWBA. As a local employer since 2009, we had hoped to support the wider business community through the awards as in previous years. We are disappointed, but are keen to ensure that the focus of the awards remains on celebrating the best of local business.”