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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 21:20 GMT
Sinn Fein stokes 'Stroke City' row
Nationalists have always argued for the name Derry
Nationalists have always argued for the name Derry
The long-running dispute over the naming of Londonderry/Derry is to be revived by Sinn Fein in a city council debate next week.

Sinn Fein is calling for the official name of the city to be made Derry.

It is very much a political issue with nationalists and republicans using the name Derry, while and unionists use the name Londonderry.

A previous effort by nationalists in the 1980s failed, but led to the council changing its name from Londonderry City Council to Derry City Council in 1984.

Loyalist murals in Londonderry
Unionists see the city as Londonderry

The council name change led to protests by unionists, many of whom still refuse to call the council by its official name.

Further confusion also comes from the fact that nationalists and unionists also variously call the city's namesake County Derry or County Londonderry.

Sinn Fein councillor Barney O'Hagan said he intends bring a motion before the council next Tuesday calling for the city to be formally named Derry as quickly as possible.

He said it was "time to grasp the nettle and show leadership".

Sinn Fein councillor Barney O'Hagan:
Sinn Fein councillor Barney O'Hagan: "Marketing problems"

Mr O'Hagan insisted his move was not political.

He said it had been shown by various consultants' reports that in marketing the city "there is a problem with the mixed message we are sending out over identity".

But Democratic Unionist Party councillor William Hay said it was being proposed to anger unionists.

"Here is a group of people that are driven by everything that is anti-unionist and anti-British.

"To try and tell us this is all about properly marketing the city, about trying to get the right name for the city - unionists will not be bluffed."

DUP councillor William Hay:
DUP councillor William Hay: "Unionists will not be bluffed"

The council itself does not have the power to change the name of the city - it is understood it can only be done by the Queen on recommendation from the government and would need an Act of Parliament.

The name Derry was derived from the Irish Daire, meaning oak grove.

Derry was formally renamed Londonderry with the granting of a new royal charter in 1613 during the British Plantation of Ulster.

During years of contention over the name, Londonderry/ Derry attracted the name Stroke City from those who feel the row futile.

See also:

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