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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 11:13 GMT
Trimble - city name change 'sectarian'
A view of Londonderry on the River Foyle
The official name of the city is Londonderry
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has strongly criticised a proposal to change the name of Londonderry to Derry.

Mr Trimble said that the decision had been greeted with horror by unionists.

Derry City Council decided on Tuesday to begin a process to change the name of the city.

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

It will do enormous damage to community relations throughout Northern Ireland

David Trimble
UUP leader
Mr Trimble said it was a "disgraceful decision".

"It is an action of purely sectarian triumphalism on the part of republicans and of total moral cowardice on the part of the SDLP.

"People will say, what does parity of esteem mean now?

"The nationalists claim to be prepared to respect other traditions, which is something which John Hume made his leitmotif for so many years. But that was merely a sham.

"It will do enormous damage to community relations throughout Northern Ireland," said Mr Trimble.

However, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "It is exactly that type of attitude by David Trimble that has meant I am not able to say that there isn't an issue about Londonderry being the official name of the city.

"It's people like David Trimble telling me that that's all I can use as a government minister that makes it an issue and makes it a problem.

"So he is part of the problem on this. The SDLP is very much trying to be part of the solution on it."

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.

The motion was passed despite angry objections by unionist councillors.

Three names

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
UUP leader David Trimble:
"This is an action of sectarian triumphalism by republicans and moral cowardice by the SDLP"
SDLP leader Mark Durkan:
"The SDLP is very much trying to be part of the solution on it"
See also:

29 Jan 03 | N Ireland
01 Jan 03 | N Ireland
05 Nov 02 | Rob on the road
21 Nov 02 | N Ireland
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