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.”