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 Wednesday, 1 January, 2003, 13:09 GMT
All in the name in Stroke City
A view of Londonderry on the River Foyle
Londonderry - divided by more than a river
BBC Northern Ireland's north-west reporter Keiron Tourish looks back at the controversy which continued to raise its head during 2002 - what to call the province's second city.

There has been little or no festive cheer between the political parties in Northern Ireland's second city as a bitter and long-running dispute over its name rumbles on.

They cannot agree whether it should be called Derry, Londonderry or the Irish, Doire.

In fact, they may leave it up to the ratepayers themselves to decide in the New Year.

On the down side, the spectre of city centre violence featured again throughout the year

At the moment, the council uses all three names to market the city.

The local authority changed its name to Derry City Council in 1984, although the official name of the place remains Londonderry.

It is also known as the Maiden City or Stroke City. The latter comes from BBC Radio Ulster's Gerry Anderson who coined the diplomatic on-air phrase "Derry-stroke-Londonderry", and some people shortened that to Stroke City.

In November, Sinn Fein failed in its attempt to have the official name of Londonderry changed to Derry.

The party said it wanted to end all the confusion and just have one name. It denied that there was any political motivation.

An SDLP motion giving equal status to both Derry and Londonderry was defeated. Unionists would not support it because it did not allow for flexibility over the name Derry City Council.

On the more positive side, one of the highlights of the year was undoubtedly the annual Halloween Carnival which brought about 30,000 people out to enjoy the spectacle.

In August, the Apprentice Boys of Derry again staged a series of events to celebrate the Siege of the City in the 17th century.

Free Derry Corner
Free Derry Corner in the nationalist Bogside
The loyal order said it was getting greater support from the entire community each year for the Maiden City Festival.

On the down side, the spectre of city centre violence featured again throughout the year.

The police launched an initiative in October because serious assaults were running at five every day.

Campaign

They set up a special unit to tackle the problem which they said was no worse than in any other large town or city in Northern Ireland or in the Republic of Ireland.

Apprentice Boys parade in Derry
Apprentice Boys parade in Derry
The police did not have the resources to put more officers onto the streets but they made a direct appeal to young people through an advertising campaign.

"One punch can destroy two lives," was the slogan. The police said that reflected the fact that the person who threw the punch and the person hit by it could end up having their lives ruined.

On the wider security front, the police were concerned about the threat posed by dissident republicans.

In the summer, it suspected the Real IRA murdered civilian construction worker David Caldwell on a military base.

For many, that was a reminder of a past they want to leave behind.

Sculptures

In a city divided by more than the River Foyle, there was one project that illustrated community harmony.

Schoolchildren from the republican Bogside and the loyalist Fountain estates designed eight sculptures which have been placed on a wall separating the two communities.

There had been trouble there in the past and tension has been high at times, particularly over the Protestant summer marching season.

But the mood was celebratory as the former BBC Newsround presenter John Craven arrived in early December to officially unveil the sculptures.

Said Craven: "Because it's a cross community project, and children from both sides of this fence have been working on it together, that says an awful lot for the future and for the way children today think and believe and behave in Northern Ireland."

See also:

05 Nov 02 | Rob on the road
21 Nov 02 | N Ireland
17 Aug 02 | N Ireland
06 Dec 02 | N Ireland
Internet links:


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