A working group will engage with the public, residents and Brandywell users over a suggestion the ground should be renamed in honour of the late Ryan McBride, after members of Derry City and Strabane District Council unanimously backed the move on Thursday.
The move is designed to explore how best to honour the former Derry City captain whose tragic death aged just 27 years in March stunned Derry and the wider football world.
The action received unanimous backing at the council’s monthly meeting on Thursday after an initial proposal by Ryan’s aunt, the Sinn Féin Councillor for The Moor, Patricia Logue, to name the ground ‘The Ryan McBride Stadium’ failed to win sufficient support.
Colr. Logue’s motion fell after failing to garner support from the SDLP, DUP, UUP and independent members, with the exception of Foyleside Councillor Darren O’Reilly, who voted with Sinn Féin for the proposal.
An amendment, which ultimately became the substantive motion and was backed by all councillors, was tabled by SDLP Colr. Martin Reilly.
It proposed that the council “recognise the significant sporting contribution made by Ryan McBride and respectfully mourn his untimely death” and “further recognise the need to commemorate Ryan’s memory in a fitting way.”
Colr. Reilly’s proposal mandated officers to “establish a working group to engage with the public and all stakeholders, including Derry City F.C., over the suggestion to rename the Brandywell Stadium and bring a paper to a further meeting of the Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee to consider the practical implementation of such a proposal, including the establishment of criteria for the naming of Council assets.”
Colr. Reilly said it was first and foremost important for the council to pay fitting tribute to the late Ryan McBride. However, he said that the council needed to look at its naming procedures generally as to rename the Brandywell would have implications for other council assets in future.
The Waterside councillor also said the council needed to carry out its own public engagement over the proposal and that the working group would enable this.
The amendment was supported by several councillors, all of whom paid tribute to the late Derry City hero.
DUP Alderman Hilary McClintock said the late Mr. McBride had represented all that was good about the youth of the city but cautioned that the ‘Brandywell’ name had been synonymous with the footballing fraternity locally for generations and suggested it might be more fitting to name a stand or a competition after the star.
Independent Warren Robinson also recognised Ryan had been a “terrific servant”and had made an “enormous impact” at Derry City F.C. and in the local junior leagues.
Colr. Robinson said it was “quite clear supporters wanted to see him remembered” but that “there is not a widespread support from supporters” for a move to name the stadium after any one individual. He said there needed to be more input from fans, the club, other Brandywell users, and from residents.
Colr. Logue refused to accept Colr. Reilly’s amendment after consulting with members of the McBride family, the Ryan McBride Foundation and Derry City supporters who were in attendance in the public gallery. However, when Colr. Reilly’s amendment became the substantive motion Colr. Logue and her colleagues joined the rest of the council in voting for it.