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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 10:01 GMT
City renaming move causes anger
A view of Londonderry on the River Foyle
The official name of the city is Londonderry
Derry City Council has decided to begin a process to change the name of the city from Londonderry to Derry.

After weeks of negotiations, the SDLP and Sinn Fein agreed on a common proposal which was passed in the council on Tuesday night.

The proposal says Londonderry should not be imposed as the official city name and everyone has the right to use the name they feel most comfortable with.

Derry City Council continuously has had difficulty over years attracting Protestant recruits because of its name

Gregory Campbell
DUP MP
The motion was passed despite angry objections by unionist councillors.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said his party, the DUP, would run with the proposal if the SDLP and Sinn Fein were prepared to delete a sentence "which presupposed a formal change in the name of the city".

"They insisted it had to be kept in. That means, before you do any equality impact assessment or legal checks, you are going to change the name.

"Their insistence that the sentence remained meant we couldn't support it," he said.

He said Derry City Council has had difficulty attracting Protestant recruits because of its name.

SDLP councillor Helen Quigley said she was disappointed that agreement could not be reached with unionists.

"It is not like the unionists fear, that the name of the city will be changed with the stroke of a pen.

"It has to be equality proofed, it has to go to Community Relations Council, and then it will come back to this council," she said.

Barney O'Hagan, leader of Sinn Fein on the council, said: "Derry City Council now believes there can only be one official name for this city and that name should be Derry."

Attempts

Last year, there were several attempts to change the city's name, which varies from Derry, Londonderry or the Irish, Doire.

In November, Sinn Fein failed in its attempt to have the official name of the city 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 also defeated.

Unionists would not support it because it did not allow for flexibility over the name Derry City Council.

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 city has remained Londonderry.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  BBC NI's Gavin Jennings:
"Unionists say they'll continue to lobby the Secretary of State to ensure the name Londonderry is kept in use"
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