SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said that the decision of the Executive Office not to host events on Ebrington Square until the end of July 2023 will be disappointing to people and businesses across Derry.
It follows the Executive Office and Derry City and Strabane District Council launching a Joint Event Application process for major events to be held in Ebrington Square and St. Columb’s Park on Friday.
Announcing the Major Event Application Process, the Executive Office also confirmed that “due to significant construction works on the Ebrington site and the Health and Safety risks associated with this, it will not be possible to host events on Ebrington Square until the end of July 2023.”
Said Ms McLaughlin: “It is deeply regrettable that it will not be possible to host events on Ebrington Square until the end of July 2023.
“When a representative from the Strategic Investment Board suggested this would be the case a few weeks ago, it was met with serious consternation from some event promoters and local people.
“I was glad when the Executive Office affirmed that no decision had been made.
“Of course, any new approach that encourages joined-up thinking between the Executive Office and Derry City and Strabane District Council is to be welcomed and health and safety must be paramount, but there is little doubt that people and businesses across Derry will be really disappointed by today’s decision.
“These events put Derry on the map and increase its offering as a destination city.
“The fact that no events will be able to take place until August of next year equates to Derry missing out on a massive opportunity at the busiest time of the year next May and June.
“I am further frustrated that elected representatives were not consulted in advance of this decision and that this decision was announced on a Friday, when the Executive Office will be very well aware of the reaction this will provoke.
“Ten years after the spectacular City of Culture, Derry has shown it is capable of hosting large-scale events, yet this new process will still limit the number of events to five.
“There are, yet again, serious questions for the Executive Office to answer on this issue.
“Without a functioning Assembly, it will be harder to effectively question the Executive Office on this decision, yet another consequence of the DUP’s selfish boycott.
“If an Assembly was up and running, I would be questioning the First and Deputy First Ministers on the need for a long-term plan to maximise Ebrington’s offering to attract high quality entertainment, increase footfall into the Waterside and boost our night-time economy.
“I will be writing to the Executive Office to express our collective disappointment and to ask what steps will be taken to create a longer-term plan for Ebrington so we can make the most of this fantastic space.”Tags: