Dublin could help Derry bag World heritage status - MLA

Colum Eastwood MLA
Colum Eastwood MLA

Dublin could hold the key to Derry gainging UNESCO World Heritage Status, SDLP MLA Colum Eastwwod has said.

The former Mayor of Derry said gaining the hertige status “would bring huge advabtage to this city and its people.”

Two years ago the city failed in a bid to make it onto the UK’s list of applications to UNESCO.

Now he beleives a bid by the irish Government could prove succesful. He was speaking during an Assembly debate which marked the 400th anniversary of the commissioning of Derry’s walls.

Mr Eastwood said: “The target to achieve World Heritage status would bring huge advantage to this city and its people. The award would bestow untold reward and recognition. It is therefore a no brainer that every avenue that can be pursued should be pursued’.

“Derry City is soaked in a rich and layered history.

“The UNESCO bid would argue that this city, its heritage and history is a succinct microcosm of the broader Anglo-Irish relationship, giving articulation to the experience of Plantation, Peace and Partition. It is this narrative which would hopefully act to fulfil UNESCO’s criteria of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’.

“It is this proposed context within the bid which makes it in many ways more appropriate that the application should be made by the Irish government on behalf of the city of Derry. Any potential impediment to the application due to technicalities surrounding ‘national boundaries’ are illogical, particularly given the historical context and ethos of the application. Every effort should be made to find a method around any such potential difficulties.

“It is crucially important that this city embeds its attraction as a cultural centre of historical significance. The City of Culture will play a major part in this endeavour.

“There should, however, be a collective clarity that 2013 is ultimately only a spring board to provide lasting legacies and opportunities for our tourism and cultural sectors. The achievement of World Heritage status would be a continuous stimulus in creating the jobs and investment which we require’.

“If processed and submitted by the Irish government, Derry’s application could be fast tracked’.

“On this, the 400th anniversary of these historic walls, I would strongly urge the Executive and the Assembly to support efforts in an attempt to achieve this designation,” he said.

His party colleague Pat Ramsey also called on the Executive to prioritise World Heritage Status for Derry’s Walls.

Mr Ramsey said:“The 400 year history of our City’s walls are to be cherished and recognised for the impact the fortifications have had on Derry and beyond. From 1613 to the present day, we can see the importance the walls have to our community not just in terms of tourism, but also in terms of harnessing them for the City of Culture celebrations.

I spoke today on the historical legacy of our shared history in terms of the plantation, the walls and our year as City of Culture. We must ensure, as I have always said, that the legacy of 2013 cannot just be that certain organisations benefit from it, but that we leave a lasting positivity and recognition of a shared future in our City and amongst our neighbours.

I have called on the Executive to engage with the British Government to seek World Heritage Status for our Walls, something I believe will copperfasten our place in these islands as a cultural hub, a historical city and the gate to the North West. “