Dublin and Belfast meet over Irish City of Culture bid

The Peace Bridge. (DER3413PG003)
The Peace Bridge. (DER3413PG003)

Northern Ireland’s Culture Minister has met with her counterpart in the Republic of Ireland to discuss a bid to make Londonderry the Irish City of Culture in 2016.

This comes despite the fact that Dublin had apparently dismissed any attempts in Londonderry to become Irish City of Culture as recently as March. At that time, a spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht in Dublin said: “There are no proposals, at this juncture, to put (the Irish City of Culture initiative) on an all-island basis.”

The position taken in Dublin hasn’t been enough to deter the Culture Minister in Stormont, Carál Ní Chuilín, however. Responding to a query from East Londonderry MLA Cathal Ó hOisín about the bid by Derry City Council for Irish City of Culture status in 2016, Ms Ní Chuilín said: “Given the success of 2013, I fully support Derry City Council’s bid for the title. I recently met a range of stakeholders from the city to discuss the bid. Indeed, the city has a strong ambition to become European Capital of Culture and also to achieve cultural world heritage site status.

“Derry City Council believes that the status associated with becoming an Irish City of Culture will help to achieve those ambitions through the outworking of strategic and collaborative partnerships across the island.

“Last week, I met Jimmy Deenihan to discuss the bid further, but I will put in a caveat that, while we are very supportive of Derry and, indeed, the north-west, we certainly cannot give blanket support to providing huge sums of public money without a proper assessment of the needs of people in the surrounding area and, indeed, what we all hope to achieve through economic and cultural regeneration.”