As the voxpops in the bid video say:
I am Derry. I am Londonderry. I am legendary.
Hundreds and thousands of words will be written in posts and comments about the winning City of Culture 2013. For me it’s a remarkable win. The most westerly city in the UK won a national competition. It’s not just out of London, or outside the M25, or over the Pennines … it’s over the water too.
The whole bid process seems to have given Derry a real confidence boost.
For a city council that regularly debates what the city should be called, never mind the debate about which principality any individual would like it to reside in, it was remarkable that a bid containing both names “Derry~Londonderry” should be made to a UK (rather than European) competition. In terms of capacity building, it’s a major leap forward. And a major achievement for the talented bid team who no doubt overcame many obstacles in their way.
Now seems to be the time for NI’s second city to stand up proud and show us all what it’s made of. There are a few years leading up to 2013 for the citizens of Derry to enter into dialogue with each other – and to allow the rest of us to listen in – about how to find ways of celebrating the many cultures (a lot more than just two) that can be found in the north west.
Time too for Belfast to pay attention, and get ready to make the journey up over the Glenshane Pass to take part in the events that will be organised. It’s not that far!
In the context of unwelcome parades, community mistrust and tension that spills over into this week’s violence and mayhem in Belfast and beyond, lessons of mutual understanding, dialogue and gracious accommodation may been to gently spread down from the north west to reach those parts of NI that are harder to reach. More on that another time.