Derry City of Culture team highlight benefits to Donegal

Derry’s success in becoming UK city of culture in 2013 will be of lasting benefit to the whole north region, Letterkenny Town Council has been told.

Derry’s success in becoming UK city of culture in 2013 will be of lasting benefit to the whole north region, Letterkenny Town Council has been told.

In the short term the 500 hotel bed shortfall in Derry along with Donegal’s attractions will be a draw for visitors to the city in 2013, town councillors were told during a presentation from Derry City Council and the city’s regeneration company Ilex.

The long term benefits for the north west include a regional science park planned for the site of one of the city’s former army bases at Fort George.

The hosting of the Turner Prize is just one of the events confirmed for the city for 2013 and that alone is expected to draw in 70,000 visitors.

Visitors to Derry can be attracted to Donegal by a trail of attractions in the county, councillors were told.

CEO of Illex Aideen McGinley told Monday’s monthly meeting of the Town Council that the team behind the Derry bid feel “very strongly that is not just something in one year for Derry but something that can be a step change for the whole region”.

She said the competition’s judges had found it to be a real positive that Derry had “this duel identity being on the border”.

Derry has two planning applications in for hotels awaiting approval but the city is short 500 hotel beds. “Only for the bed spaces in Letterkenny, we would have been short.” The catchment area of Donegal gave gave the Derry bid bedspace and arts facilites, such as An Grianan theatre and the Regional Cultural Centre, she said.

Pro-active

She said Donegal has been very pro-active in getting involved in the event and pointed to how Cheshire has “piggy backed” on Liverpool’s year as European City of Culture as an example of how 2013 can benefit here.

Director of Development for Derry City council, Oonagh McGillion, said the bid team “genuinely believed that this opportunity could be transformational”.

“This is much wider than the city and is about how the city interacts with the region,” she said.

Michael Heaney of Donegal County Council said Donegal County Council has been “working very closely with the Derry bid since its inception because it is going to be as much as a resource for us as Derry”.

Cllr. Dessie Larkin said 2013 was being sold as a north west event.

Cllr. Ciaran Brogan said the event is about the north west and is an opportunity for Donegal to maximise from a tourist perspective.

Mayor Tadhg Culbert said there is a feeling of involvement in Donegal with reflects the closeness between the people of Donegal and Derry.