Monday 20 November 2017

Unionists 'disgusted' at council decision to drop 'London' from Derry

Road sign in Northern Ireland with the reference to London obscured
Road sign in Northern Ireland with the reference to London obscured

David Kearns

Unionists are furious at a decision by Derry City Council to back a campaign to change the official name of Londonderry to Derry, with many calling the move "sectarian" and "disgusting".

The motion was passed on Thursday evening with the full support of Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Independent councillors, despite opposition from unionists.

Condemning the decision by Derry and Strabane Council, DUP Councillor David Ramsey branded the vote “disgusting”.

“We are totally opposed to any change from the name Londonderry,” he said.

UUP Councillor Derek Hussey claimed the name of the city could not be “changed back” because it had, to his understanding, always been ‘Londonderry’ under a Royal Charter.  

Speaking on the matter, Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinle said it was the policy of the previous Derry City Council to change the name of the city back to Derry.

“Sinn Fein’s position hasn’t changed since March,” he added.

“We would propose today that Derry City and Strabane District Council seeks to change the name of the city back to Derry and in that context writes to the DoE Minister seeking clarity of the process that will allow that to proceed.”

The council will now write to Northern Ireland's Environment Minister Mark H Durkan (SDLP), who is from the city itself, on how to go about the change. 

SDLP Councillor Gerard Diver said the council had been told previously that only the Queen’s Privy Council who could change the name.

This ‘Privy Council’ is a formal body of advisers to the Queen, mostly composed of senior politicians who are, or have been, members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

The vote by the Derry City council was called following a request for a public vote on installing ‘Derry’ as the official name of the city.

A Facebook petition, which was launched in May, garnered support from over 1,500 people.

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