Appeal by Derry Comhaltas over Fleadh decision

Traditional musicians
Image caption The fleadh would have coincided with Londonderry's year as UK City of Culture

The Derry branch of Comhaltas has appealed against the decision of the organisation's Ulster Council not to put the city forward as host for the 2013 Fleadh.

At a meeting of Derry Comhaltas last Wednesday, members voted was 13-1 in favour of the bid.

However, after two dissident republican bombs exploded in the city on Thursday, the Ulster council turned down the bid.

Comhaltas promotes traditional Irish music and culture around the world.

The Ulster council said it was impossible to support the city's bid to host the popular music and dance festival because of the danger from dissident violence.

It said that with "deep regret and long consideration", it was turning down the bid because safety was paramount.

The UK City of Culture organisers had been pushing to bring the Fleadh to Northern Ireland for the first time ever in 2013.

But the UK link to the traditional Irish event had already proved a stumbling block with some members.

Director general of Comhaltas nationally, Labhras O Murchu told Talkback that in the 60 year history of the organisation, branch applications that reached provincial level automatically went through for consideration at national level.

This is the first time that an appeal has been lodged.

Image caption Two bombs exploded in Derry last week

The national council will meet on Saturday to discuss the Derry appeal and to consider applications from Sligo and Ennis.

"The appeal is based on the fact that a decision had already been made by the full Ulster council to encourage and support the application," said Mr O Murchu.

"The decision not to do that was made by a sub committee."

Mr O Murchu said a decision on the appeal would be made by the central executive council which includes delegates from the four provinces, Britain and North America.

"We have been inundated with emails, 65 to date from all over the world, and those are very positive about the fleadh going to Derry," he added.

"We wouldn't want to send the message out to the world that Derry was not a safe city.

"Comhaltas is now organised in 15 countries, on four continents, and the dialogue I've been having for the last few days is unanimous in the non-political, non-sectarian aspect of Comhaltas and that is going to be paramount in any discussions we have."

Mr O Murchu added that the deadline for applications to host the 2013 fleadh was Thursday evening and the Ulster council could, in theory, reverse its decision and submit an application from Derry.

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