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Derry back in the running for Fleadh

DERRY is back in the running to host the All-Ireland Fleadh after a provincial governing body reversed its decision not to support the city's bid.

The Ulster Council of Comhaltas caused widespread anger in the Foyle area when it did not put the city forward as a contender to stage the music and cultural festival.

Concerns about the threat of dissident republican violence in the city was a factor in the original decision.

But following criticism from across the political spectrum - First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness both expressed their disappointment - senior officers from the Ulster Council last night changed their stance after an appeal by the Derry organisers.

The final decision on which city will host the 2013 event will take place in Dublin at the weekend.

If Derry is selected it will be the first occasion the Fleadh has been held north of the border.

Foyle Assembly Member Mark H Durkan welcomed the reversal.

"I welcome this conversion by the Ulster Council and that they have seen sense," he said.

"Over the past couple of days there has been a lot of anger, more disappointment, over the original decision not to back the bid.

"It has created great public interest in the issue with people talking to me about it who I would have thought wouldn't have known much about the Fleadh before.

"I think that shows that if the city is ultimately chosen, the organisers will have a great opportunity to highlight the event to many people who may not have experienced it before."

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Martina Anderson said she had been surprised and disappointed by the original decision not to back the bid.

"Therefore the decision taken last night to reverse that position is a great relief and most welcome," she added.

"I was always confident that once in possession of all the facts and details around the Derry bid that the Officer Board would recognise the quality of the case made for the Fleadh to come to our city.

"I congratulate the board on its mature reflection and reversal of its decision not to back the bid.

"Now that all the confusion and concerns have been addressed, it is incumbent on everyone and every organisation who has the best interests of Derry and Comhaltas at heart to row in behind the bid in the coming days which will be crucial in the decision-making process that hopefully will bring the 2013 Fleadh to Derry."