Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Sinn Fein concern over city bid 'bizarre'

Derry
Derry is hoping to become the UK's City of Culture 2013

The Northern Ireland culture minister has described as "bizarre" Sinn Fein concerns about Londonderry's bid for UK City of Culture status.

Nelson McCausland said people would struggle to understand why it had raised problems over the bid for 2013.

The leader of Sinn Fein on Derry City Council voiced concerns about the bid.

Maeve McLaughlin said she was not opposed to it, but did not support it in its current form as "it did not reflect the city's cultural diversity".

She said: "I have yet to be convinced this bid as it currently stands reflects the views of Irish nationalists and republicans."

Mr McCausland said: "I have described it as bizarre and I think people elsewhere will look at it in the same light.

"It is a development that clearly indicates division at a time when we are trying to move to a shared and better future in Northern Ireland."

Ms McLaughlin said the party had contributed to progressing the bid. She added the council had said the bid was in draft form and would be developed further.

"I welcome this clarification and look forward to working with the group to ensure a true reflection of the cultural diversity and richness of our great city," she said.

"I also look forward to achieving a final submission that will command all-party support in the council."

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council said the bid remained in draft form and would be developed further following consultation with interested parties.

Shortlisted

Derry, Sheffield, Norwich and Birmingham have been shortlisted for the City of Culture title.

The four cities have until May 28 to develop and submit their full bids before the winning city is announced in June.

The SDLP MP for Foyle Mark Durkan has accused Sinn Fein of engaging in "damaging" behaviour.

Mr Durkan said the bid was an opportunity for the city to promote its "civic and cultural ambition".

DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said: "If I wanted to be facetious I would say that at the very outset of this bid, the clue was in the name, 'UK City of Culture'.



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