Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín is fully supportive of a Londonderry bid for the Irish City of Culture title even though her southern counterpart’s office says northerners need not apply.
DUP MLA Gregory Campbell asked the Minister given “that the relevant authorities in the Republic of Ireland have confirmed that the Irish City of Culture competition will be confined to cities within the Republic of Ireland” and that “there is no political consensus in Londonderry for such a bid” if she would actively support a European bid instead.
Ms Ní Chuilín replied: “I understand that a bid for the Irish City of Culture title has been discussed by Derry City Council and it is the responsibility of the Council to progress with the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs. I am fully supportive of a bid.
“In terms of a European bid, whilst there are no specific procedures in place to assist cities seeking the EU City of Culture designation, my Department will continue to work with and support stakeholders in Derry and across the North West to ensure that the City is in a strong position should any bid be made in the future.”
Earlier this month the Sentinel reported how Dublin was refusing to budge on its position on the Irish title.
A spokesperson for the Dublin Culture Minister Jimmy Deenihan stated: “Northern Ireland has access to a City of Culture initiative, as evidenced by the highly successful Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013, and there are no proposals, at this juncture, to put this City of Culture initiative on an all-island basis.”
It would thus appear significant political intervention would be required to enable a Londonderry bid for 2018.
Last October the Sentinel was the first media outlet to reveal Derry City Council was considering a bid for the European title in 2023.
In 2023 the United Kingdom and Hungary are the two European member states, which are scheduled to nominate Capitals of Culture.
In 2020 the Republic of Ireland and Croatia will have a chance to nominate culture capitals.
Last month Londonderry DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney told the Sentinel: “This is an event, which, very much, is designated for cities from within the 26 counties. It seems very clear to me that Londonderry doesn’t meet the criteria for entry.”