Belfast Telegraph

Troubled Fleadh bid is back on track after board row

By Donna Deeney

Londonderry's troubled bid to host the All-Ireland Fleadh in 2013 is back on track after delegates at the County Derry Board finally endorsed the application.

The bid was thrown into turmoil two weeks ago when, for the first time ever, some members of a local board voted against hosting the event.

However, those members who opposed Derry’s bid did not attend Wednesday night's meeting.

Their objection centred on the UK link in Derry's City of Culture 2013 title, but their absence means it can now progress to an assessment at provincial and then all-Ireland level.

If successful, the Fleadh is expected to bring tens of millions of pounds into the local economy.

Comhaltas Dhoire, the local branch leading the Fleadh bid, said the decision was testament to the strong Derry application.

Chairperson Eibhlin Ni Dhochartaigh said: “Over the last 60 years, Comhaltas has kept traditional music and culture alive in Ireland and across the world.

“The organisation has developed this world-renowned festival, Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, which is the biggest celebration of that culture.

“From the outset we have remained focused on Derry’s ability to host a fantastic Fleadh. We believe we can do that. We have the talent, the location, the facilities and the support to do it.

“We are up against stiff competition from a number of other regions for the title, but we believe that we have put together the best case possible for Derry.”

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan said the decision was a victory for common sense.

He added: “I am glad that common sense has prevailed and that differences of opinion within Comhaltas have been set aside in the interests of Derry.”

Sinn Fein junior minister Martina Anderson MLA added: “I want to congratulate all of those who worked so hard to bring the bid to this juncture and wish them success in the final stages.”

What now?

Derry’s application to host the 53rd Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann will be appraised by the Ulster Council in the coming days. If this is successful, the bid will be presented to the ard chomhairle on January 28 for a final decision.

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