Ownership of Derry’s historic City Walls should be in local hands, according to the city’s MP.
Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion says she has been meeting regularly with The Honourable the Irish Society - which owns the 400 years-old Walls - to discuss the possibility of transferring ownership of the 400 years-old monument to a Derry-based organisation.
She believes Derry City and Strabane District Council is ideally placed for such a role.
The Irish Society - which was responsible for building the Walls in the early 17th century - says it is unable to offer any comment at this time as the matter has not yet been discussed by its trustees.
Derry & Strabane Council, meanwhile, says it is happy to work with stakeholders in order to look at possible future models for the management of the City Walls.
A spokesperson said: “Council acknowledges that the City Walls are a treasured historical and cultural asset and are key to the tourism product of the City and District. Council is committed to working with all partners to maximise the development potential of the Walls as a tourism product as well as to ensure they are preserved and conserved in keeping with their historical significance.”
Elisha McCallion says ownership of the Walls - Derry’s biggest tourist attraction - should be local so they can be “used to their full potential to help attract tourists”.
“At present, a range of groups and bodies are involved in managing and maintaining the Walls,” she says. “This can make it difficult and time-consuming to ensure their preservation and maintenance, to organise events or initiatives around the Walls, or, even, to promote them as a tourist attraction.
“I have been meeting regularly with The Honourable the Irish Society in London to discuss the possibility of transferring ownership and guardianship of the Walls to a body in the city. We agreed that Derry City and Strabane District Council could be ideally placed for such a role.
“This is a first step in the process. It was agreed that The Honourable the Irish Society will go and look at ways at how this can be achieved at their end and I will engage with the bodies that are currently involved with the Walls to take this forward.”