Derry is ‘UK city of culture’
Derry is ‘UK city of culture’

Derry has been chosen as the “UK City of Culture” for 2013, ahead of steel capital Sheffield and mustard centre Norwich.

The idea of a ‘UK city of culture’ is a British attempt to recreate the effect of the European Capital of Culture through a publicity campaign.

The win was seen as a boost for normalisation efforts and regeneration work in Derry.

City officials and supporters cheered in front of a big screen tonight in Guildhall square as the result was announced.

In a place with three names -- including the colonial ‘Londonderry’ and the original Gaelic ‘Doire Colmcille’, there is concern among organisers that the nationalist community will reject an attempt to portray the city as a “UK capital”. However, the city is hoping hundreds of millions of pounds will be spent in the area as a result of the new arts programme.

The North’s Derry-born first minister Martin McGuinness said he was “over the moon”.

“We’ve won on our merits,” he insisted. “This in an evening when hope and history rhymes in Derry.”

“This is a precious gift for the peacemaker,” he added. “Now that the green light has been shown, the real work begins. The benefits will last for five to 10 years, the buildup is an important as what happens in 2013.”

26-County Taoiseach Brian Cowen praised the “great cross-community effort” that was made to ensure Derry’s successful bid.

“I am delighted to offer my heartiest congratulations to the City of Derry,” Mr Cowen said in a statement. The victory would allow Derry and the northwest to “show the wider world how far it has come and how much it has to offer”.

It was also a platform to celebrate Derry’s history in the context of a modern city that embraces all traditions, he said.

The literary and artistic traditions and the regeneration projects under way in the city would make its region “colourful and dynamic”, Mr Cowen added.

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