Less than imperial Londonderry gaffe to be addressed by War Museum

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The Imperial War Museum has vowed to address a less than imperial explanatory note on one of its exhibits in London that refers to rioting that gripped “Derry (then know as Londonderry)” during the hunger strikes.

The explanation provoked the ire of one museum goer, Andrew Lamour, who has correctly stated that it was “inaccurate” and needed “updating.”

DUP MLA Gary Middleton also said: “Obviously this would need to be corrected. It should read Londonderry ‘formerly Derry’.

“I will also make contact with the museum to make them aware if they have not already been made so. It’s important that we tell and share our history throughout the world but we need to also ensure that information is factually correct.”

The Museum has advised the Sentinel it will take swift action to address the oversight.

A spokesperson commented: “IWM’s intention in regards to this label is to follow the lead given by the city and use the double appellation Derry/Londonderry as featured by the council in its promotions and graphics for Derry/Londonderry when it was European City of Culture in 2013.

“This gives recognition of the different variants of the name and appears to be the commonest solution adopted by all those looking to describe the city in the most balanced way.

“We will be amending the label in the near future.”

The full explanatory label relating to a series of photographs taken by a touring soldier, reads as follows: “In January 1981 the 2nd Battallion, Royal Anglian Regiment began its sixth tour of service in Northern Ireland.

“These photographs, taken by Lance Corporal Andy Martin, show the rioting that gripped Derry (then known a Londonderry) over Easter that year.

“The riots were prompted by a series of hunger strikes by Republican prisoners at the Maze Prison from March 1 in protest over their conditions.

“Ten hunger strikers died beofre the strikes ended on October 3.”

Unionist anger over the label stems from the fact that the city very much remains Londonderry from a legal perspective regardless of common usage.

Derry officially became Londonderry when King James I granted a Royal Charter on March 29, 1613.

The Charter was briefly annulled by King Charles 1, renewed by Oliver Cromwell, re-granted by King Charles II in 1662, then cancelled and restored under King James II in 1687. To change the name of the city an applicant would have to alter the 1662 Charter, either by asking Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to do so or by legislating for a name change at Westminster.