Belfast Telegraph

Fleadh Cheoil goes to Northern Ireland for first time

The organisers of the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil have been commended for their "leap of faith" in deciding to hold next year's event in Londonderry - the first time it will take place in Northern Ireland.

Hopes of holding the musical event north of the Border appeared to be scuppered earlier this month after the Ulster Council of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann ruled against the Derry bid citing fears posed by dissidents who had carried out two bomb attacks in the city recently.

However, the council reversed its decision last week and on Saturday the Comhaltas executive voted to hold the 2013 fleadh in Derry, which beat rival bids from Sligo and Ennis.

The annual all-Ireland Fleadh attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the town or city chosen to host it, generating millions in revenue.

Stormont Junior Minister Martina Anderson, who represents the Derry area and who attended the vote, hailed the decision. "When you consider the largest cultural festival anywhere in the world is going to take place in Derry, it is a great honour for all of us," she said.

The Sinn Fein representative said the decision followed lobbying by politicians and senior police officers, who she said had reassured organisers over any security concerns.

Ms Anderson said the event could bring 300,000 visitors to Derry and generate close to 40 million euro (£34 million). The Derry delegation erupted in celebration when it was announced that, following the withdrawal of the Ennis bid, Derry had won.

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness welcomed the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann decision.

Mr Robinson said: "This is a vote of confidence in Londonderry and it will generate significant cultural and economic benefit to the city and surrounding areas. It is a proud and historic city with a rich heritage and the hosting of this event will be one of the highlights of the UK City of Culture celebrations."

Mr McGuinness added: "This is a great day for Derry and the north and I wish to thank all those who have played a part in securing this outcome. I commend Comhaltas for this leap of faith in the city - it was no doubt a difficult decision but Derry had a compelling bid."

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