DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney says a proposed bid to make Londonderry the next Republic of Ireland (ROI) City of Culture is a ‘non-runner’ and that efforts should now be concentrated on securing the UK nomination for the European title in 2023.
Mr Devenney made the comments as the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in Dublin confirmed to the Sentinel that Londonderry doesn’t qualify for its cultural initiative.
A spokesperson for the Dublin Culture Minister Jimmy Deenihan indicated northerners need not apply, stating: “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.”
Mr Devenney agreed the position couldn’t be any clearer.
“This is an event, which, very much, is designated for cities from within the 26 counties,” Mr Devenney told the Sentinel. “It seems very clear to me that Londonderry doesn’t meet the criteria for entry.”
A spokesperson for the Dublin Department of Culture said: “It is envisaged that a city will be designated as a City of Culture every four years. A competition will be held for the next designation, with that designation expected for 2018.”
But that city won’t be Londonderry. Whilst the selection criteria do not make any references to geography or jurisdiction, the Department is clear Limerick’s successor won’t be Londonderry unless there’s an extraordinary political intervention.
Mr Devenney says it’s time to park the idea and concentrate all the city’s efforts on bidding to become the European Capital.
“I believe it’s time to move forward and work towards a bid for the European Capital of Culture,” said Mr Devenney.
The Sentinel was the first media outlet to reveal Derry City Council was considering a bid last October.
In 2023 the United Kingdom and Hungary are the two member states scheduled to nominate Capitals of Culture.
Culture Minsiter Carál Ní Chuilin has also now assured DUP MLA Gregory Campbell that her officials will be available to provide advise in the event of a Londonderry bid.
“We have the track record, following on from the UK City of Culture in 2013 and it’s time that we get all the stakeholders together and that we meet with DCAL in order to make it happen,” said Mr Devenney.