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‘Cultural powerhouse’ Derry basks in glow of City of Culture victory

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The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood, with guests at the Guildhall to celebrate the city's success in winning the UK City of Culture 2013. Included, from left, are Secretary of State Owen Paterson, Valerie Watts, Ton Clerk and City Council Chief Executive, playwright Phil Redmond, chairman of the judging panel, Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and Aideen McGinley, chief executive ILEX

The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood, with guests at the Guildhall to celebrate the city's success in winning the UK City of Culture 2013. Included, from left, are Secretary of State Owen Paterson, Valerie Watts, Ton Clerk and City Council Chief Executive, playwright Phil Redmond, chairman of the judging panel, Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and Aideen McGinley, chief executive ILEX

Secretary of State Owen Paterson, Mark Durkan MP, and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries tour the City Walls during thier visit to Derry to celebrate the UK City of Culture 2013

Secretary of State Owen Paterson, Mark Durkan MP, and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries tour the City Walls during thier visit to Derry to celebrate the UK City of Culture 2013

Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel

Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel

Ed Vaizney, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel

Ed Vaizney, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel

The Mayor and Mayoress of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood and Rachael Parkes with playwright Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel

The Mayor and Mayoress of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood and Rachael Parkes with playwright Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, and Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel with members of the production team who made the 'Voices' film for the City of Culture bid at the specail screening in the Nerve Centre. Included from left are Marty Melarkey, Sharon Concannon, Mark McCauley, Justice Scoltock and  John Peto

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, and Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel with members of the production team who made the 'Voices' film for the City of Culture bid at the specail screening in the Nerve Centre. Included from left are Marty Melarkey, Sharon Concannon, Mark McCauley, Justice Scoltock and John Peto

The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood, leads guests on a tour of Derry historic walls. Included, from left are First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Mark Durkan, MP, Secretary of State Owen Paterson, and Gregory Campbell MP

The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood, leads guests on a tour of Derry historic walls. Included, from left are First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Mark Durkan, MP, Secretary of State Owen Paterson, and Gregory Campbell MP

Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel receiving an oak tree from members of the successful Derry - Londonderry bid team. Included, from left are Noelle Robinson, Aideen McGinley and Oonagh McGillion

Phil Redmond, chairman, UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel receiving an oak tree from members of the successful Derry - Londonderry bid team. Included, from left are Noelle Robinson, Aideen McGinley and Oonagh McGillion

The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood, with guests at the Guildhall to celebrate the city's success in winning the UK City of Culture 2013. Included, from left, are Secretary of State Owen Paterson, Valerie Watts, Ton Clerk and City Council Chief Executive, playwright Phil Redmond, chairman of the judging panel, Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and Aideen McGinley, chief executive ILEX

Northern Ireland-born actor James Nesbitt branded Derry a “cultural powerhouse” after the city won the inaugural UK City of Culture title.

Coleraine-born Nesbitt, star of hit television shows Cold Feet and Murphy’s Law, said: “This decision confirms what many of us in the province and further afield have known for many years — that Derry/Londonderry is a cultural powerhouse.

“Whether it is writers like Seamus Heaney and Seamus Deane, songwriters and performers like Phil Coulter or The Undertones, artists like Willie Doherty, film-makers like Margo Harkin and Tom Collins or actors like Amanda Burton, Roma Downey and Bronagh Gallagher, the city has asserted a huge influence on the arts internationally.”

Congratulations have been pouring in from well-wishers after the city won the prestigious 2013 title on Thursday night.

SDLP leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said she was delighted by the award.

Ms Ritchie said: “I am delighted the organisers of the UK City of Culture have decided to say yes and award Derry this prestigious title.

“As a city, Derry is already steeped in culture, tradition and history. But we should all be inspired by the way the city united across the entire community to deliver this remarkable success.”

Culture Minister Nelson McCausland said: “The success of Londonderry in the UK City of Culture competition for 2013 is a tremendous achievement and one which will benefit the whole of Northern Ireland.

“Congratulations to the entire bid team and to all involved in the preparation and submission of the successful bid.

“Clearly all the hard work and determined effort has paid off.”

And Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: “Winning the City of Culture title will create a lasting legacy, not just for the city but also for the whole of Northern Ireland, and deliver a substantial programme of cultural activity.” Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson MLA said Derry now needed to use this recognition to capitalise on the talent to ensure the city is marketed to its full potential.

“It needs to be used to attract investment, tourism and job creation for the citizens of Derry,” she said.

Kieran McCarthy MLA, Alliance Party culture spokesperson, said: “This is brilliant news for Derry and for Northern Ireland. Other City of Culture titles have had massive impacts upon the places which have held them and I believe that this accolade will be magnificent for the city and for Northern Ireland.”

Roisin McDonough, CEO of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Within Northern Ireland, Londonderry has long been recognised as the homeland of many of our greatest writers, artists and musicians and now, having been awarded the City of Culture title, 2013 will be the year when the rest of the world will get to hear about just how much Derry has to offer.”

Declan Kelly, US economic envoy, said: “Winning the title UK City of Culture 2013 is a tremendous achievement.

“It has been a pleasure to be a part of the effort over the last six months.”

And Jim Sammon, Derry's Chamber of Commerce president, said: “Our time has come and this platform will give us the opportunity to broadcast the talent of our people and the beauty of our place.

“This is a time to celebrate, to create and to attract and captivate visitors and investors.”

Belfast Telegraph