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Derry to host 2013 all-Ireland fleadh

Derry to host 2013 all-Ireland fleadh

Derry is to host next year’s All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, becoming the first venue north of the Border to stage the event which attracts up to 300,000 visitors.

Derry winning the bid to host the fleadh was another underpinning of the peace process, according to Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, head of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

First Minister Peter Robinson and East Derry DUP MP Gregory Campbell were among a wide group of nationalist and unionist politicians who welcomed Saturday’s decision by the central executive committee of comhaltas in Dublin to award the 2013 all-Ireland fleadh to Derry.

Some disagreement in Ulster over Derry seeking to have the fleadh next year when Derry will be UK City of Culture as well as the possible threat from dissident republicans, had undermined the chances of Derry hosting the event which is worth about €40 million.

Yesterday week the Ulster executive of comhaltas decided that the Derry bid should not go forward because of the dissident threat. The fleadh being held during a year-long cultural event that has “UK” in its title also prompted opposition from some Ulster comhaltas members.

Strong lobbying, however, by the likes of Mr Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Justice Minister David Ford and former SDLP leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume – plus what Mr Ó Murchú described as an “avalanche” of messages from all over the world into comhaltas supporting Derry – prompted a U-turn by Ulster comhaltas.

The Derry application was evenually allowed to go forward. The city’s chances were enhanced when one of the three bidders, Ennis, withdrew its application, implicitly in favour of Derry.

A total of 31 members of the central executive were entitled to vote on Saturday. Mr Ó Murchú said the vote would remain secret but that Derry “won comfortably” against the other applicant, Sligo.

A delegation from Derry travelled to Dublin to hear the result.

“When it was announced the whole atmosphere was just electrified. They jumped up and they hugged and they cried. We always had that feeling that there was a great deep emotion behind the application,” said Mr Ó Murchú.

He expressed some bemusement over the “UK” issue being a problem. “We always use the title, all-Ireland fleadh. We never saw the “UK” as being an issue at all. It will be an independent all-Ireland fleadh cheoil.

“The people involved in supporting Derry saw this as a huge opportunity for underpinning what has come out of the peace process, and also of sending a message that all communities, of all political affiliations wanted to work together,” he

Foilsithe ar - 30 Eanáir 2012

The Irish Times - Gerry Moriarty

Bí ar an eolas - Cláraigh dár ríomhirisí

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