Sinn Féin and Fine Gael have united in the Oireachtas over the apparent disqualification of Derry and Belfast from the running for European Capital of Culuture in 2023, which has been described as another ‘tangible disaster’ wrought by Brexit.
Sinn Féin Senator, Niall Ó Donnghaile, speaking after the European Commission wrote to the British Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) suggesting the cities will be ineligible due to our future non-EU membership, urged the Irish government to engage with both councils over the snub.
“Unfortunately, it has transpired that the European Commission will not recognise bids from what it deems to be UK cities after 2019 and the fallout of Brexit. Here is another tangible disaster, another negative impact of taking the North out of the EU against its will. We are all aware of the negatives. We have rehearsed them in this Chamber and elsewhere for legitimate, genuine and understandable reasons.
“I call on the Irish Government, in particular the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, to engage with both councils at chief executive and mayoral levels and to become champions and ambassadors at European Council and Commission levels to ensure that this immediate, unwanted and unfortunately tangible impact of Brexit is offset, the bid prevails and Béal Feirste and Doire are the European cities of culture in 2023.”
Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer concurred: “Strangely, I agree with the point made by Senator Ó Donnghaile on Béal Feirste and Doire mar Phríomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa. I very much agree with Senator Ó Donnghaile that there is a need for us to support Belfast and Derry as European capitals of culture.”