The word Derry is to be removed from the wording on a plaque to mark the unveiling of the refurbished Guildhall, after the SDLP sided with unionists on the issue.
The Guildhall refurbishment was expected to include the official title ‘Mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell’ in reference to the Sinn Fein Councillor for Creggan who was the city’s First Citizen at the time of the unveiling in June 2013.
At Tuesday evening’s December Full Council Meeting at the Guildhall, DUP Councillor Drew Thompson had proposed on behalf of his party “that we remove the word Derry in the interests of community relations and equality and in acknowledgement of the minority in this city”.
Pledging his party’s support for such a move, SDLP Councillor Gerard Diver said: “obviously it is important we try and get a wording that as many people as possible are comfortable with.”
He added that the word Derry was already featured elsewhere on the plaque, adding: “We would be content to say ‘this building was opened by the Mayor of the city Kevin Campbell’.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Fleming said that the matter had “unfortunately been turned into a political football”, and branded the arguments put forward for the change “ludicrous”.
“The vast majority of people in this city, Catholic, Protestant and dissenter refer to it as Derry. Kevin Campbell was mayor for everyone and seen himself as Mayor of Derry.”
Despite opposition from all nine Sinn Fein Councillors present, the DUP proposal was adopted by the 15 unionists and SDLP members present.
DUP Councillor Joe Miller said in the chamber immediately afterwards: “Thank goodness there’s a Westminster election coming up”, to which Sinn Fein Councillor Elisha McCallion replied: “You wouldn’t half know, would you?”