Please support Londonderry, UK City of Culture 2013

If the introduction could win it, Seamus Heaney’s eloquence in promoting Londonderry’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2013 would see it home.

It seems to me that the omens are encouraging, in that the 400th anniversary of the building of London’s Derry could be read as a symbolic handover of cultural authority from London’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad. And if the omens good, so too is the etymology: Doire is the oak, as is ilex, but another word for oak in Latin is robur, which is also the word for ‘strength’.

The bid itself is not without its own lyrical quality but is hard-headed too. It ducks none of the legacy good and bad. The links to the City of London, to the US and its Donegal hinterland are all proclaimed and turned to advantage. Just to assure other city slickers, this is Northern Ireland’s only bid.It’s wonderful to see the bid exploits Derry’s identity in full. Nothing grudging here or even very political-sounding about the Union, while there’s total pride in Seamus’s “ eleven centuries of Gaelic cultural achievement.” On the edge of the Union it may be, but its contacts are good. And the prospects against competition from Birmingham, Sheffield and other much bigger and more central cities? Cameo-sized I suppose, but not to written off by any means. As a Derryman, I look forward to warm support from Sluggerites and will be staying in touch with progress until the result is declared in September.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London