Maiden City pride shines through economic gloom
Recession a big concern but optimism is still high
Main picture: Reporter Lisa Smyth talks to Anne Devine at the Diamond in Londonderry. Below left: Donna Deeney talks to Paddy Bradley before the debate and (right) the ‘Tell Us About It’ van passes the famous Austin’s store in the city
WITH a trade union rally to protect public sector jobs in the city, it was little surprise one of the main issues in Londonderry was unemployment.
In the past Derry had a thriving textile industry but factory after factory has closed leaving Altnagelvin Hospital as one of the biggest employers in the area.
So with massive cuts looming in the public sector, hundreds turned out at the Guildhall Square at lunchtime to register their concerns over employment in the north west.
They gathered as the former US President Bill Clinton arrived in Northern Ireland's second city to talk about the economy — the subject is certainly at the forefront of people’s minds.
Brenda Maguire (37), born and bred in Derry, said: “I haven't worked for a couple of years now. I used to work in a shop but got laid off and haven't worked since.
“We definitely need more jobs but I don't see how that is going to happen with all these cutbacks.”
Even with the economic downturn, the city centre appears to be thriving — there is certainly a buzz in the streets with plenty of tourists visiting to enjoy the history, sights and activities Derry has to offer.
Alan and Cary Thomas, from Minnesota in the US, were in Derry as part of a trip to Ireland.
Mr Thomas said: “This is our first time in Ireland and we wanted to be sure and see Derry. It's so different from what you see on the news and everyone is so friendly.”
Retailers in the city centre appear to be flourishing as well and there were a number of men waiting patiently in the Diamond as their wives took advantage of the shops.
David Burry (42) travelled from Belfast with his wife to do just that.
He said: “I really like Derry and my wife loves it. We come here a couple of times year. People just seem more friendly here than they do in Belfast.”
And with Derry succeeding in its bid for the City of Culture, many people the Belfast Telegraph spoke to believe things are on the up.
Student Rebecca Muir (19) said she thinks the title will make a huge difference to Derry.
“There is a real thing that life ends at the start of the M2 and there is nothing going on outside of Derry, but that's absolutely not true,” she said.
“We have plenty happening and getting City of Culture proves that.”
Pat Doherty (58), a life-long resident of Derry, said: “It's brilliant. People here are definitely very proud of the city. I think the City of Culture is going to be really good for the city as well.”</>\[Emily Lea\]”It has definitely put us on the map. It will allow us to show that we're moving beyond the Troubles and that we're not all about sectarianism. There is definitely more to Derry than that.”