Belfast Telegraph

Support call for city's Fleadh bid

The people of Londonderry have been urged to make the most of their city's dramatic re-entry into the race to host the All-Ireland Fleadh and ensure its troubled bid ends in success.

Music and culture lovers right across Northern Ireland were also encouraged by local politicians to get behind efforts to bring the two-week festival north of the border for the first time in 2013.

The seemingly doomed bid was resurrected on Tuesday night when provincial body - the Ulster Council of Comhaltas - reversed its decision not to support the city's case. Concerns about the threat of dissident republican violence in the city was a factor in its original stance.

But following intensively lobbying - First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness both expressed their disappointment - senior officers from the Ulster Council changed their stance after an appeal by the Derry organisers.

Welcoming the city's second chance, Stormont Junior Minister Martina Anderson said much work still had to be done to make sure Derry prevails when the national Comhaltas decides where the 2013 event will be staged.

Sligo and Ennis are also bidding to host the Fleadh.

The Foyle Sinn Fein MLA predicted the event will pump £40 million into the city's economy and bring 300,000 additional visitors to Derry.

"I don't think it's good enough to put the bid on the table, we want to get this is the bag," she said. "We've taken a massive step forward but we've one more step to go through and there's still work to be done until that vote is taken on Saturday.

"From now to Saturday it's all about lobbying and I hope everybody across the north gets behind the Derry bid. It's right that the Fleadh should come north for the first time and it's right it should come to Derry."

Derry is playing host to the UK City of Culture in 2013 and it is understood some involved with the quintessentially Irish Fleadh had concerns about their event being linked to a British-titled programme of events.

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