Unionist Peer told name of city ‘will not change’ despite council vote

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The current British Government will not change the name, despite a recent vote in favour of a name-change at Derry City and Strabane District Council. That was the answer given to Lord Laird of Artigarvan by Prime Minister David Cameron’s principal adviser on devolved constitutional issues, Lord Dunlop.

Professor John Dunn Laird, Baron Laird of Artigarvan asked Her Majesty’s Government, in a written question: “What is their assessment of whether the decision by Derry City and Strabane District Council to change the name of a city from Londonderry to Derry, without consultation with the city’s residents, is in keeping with the requirement in the 1998 Belfast Agreement that there should be parity of esteem between the communities in Northern Ireland?”

The response, signed by Lord Dunlop, read: “The Government, on occasion receives requests to change names of towns and cities. At this time the Government does not intend to change the name of the City of Londonderry.”

Lord Laird said: “To me that is emphatic. That is the Government’s policy. When that says ‘at this time’ that simply means that they cannot speak for future Governments.

“That means that as far as this Government is concerned, they are not going to change the name.

“As someone whose roots are in the North West, I am very pleased that the desires and wishes of the unionist minority in the city of Londonderry are being taken seriously.”

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