Unionists challenge Londonderry to Derry name change call

Derry/Londonderry
Image caption The city's official name is Londonderry

Unionist politicians have submitted an official challenge over a Sinn Féin proposal to change the name of Londonderry to Derry.

A motion supporting the name change was passed at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council in July.

All previous attempts to change the name have failed.

DUP councillor Drew Thompson said: "We've been through this before and we know a lot of people are interested in keeping the name as Londonderry."

He added: "We have been approached by an overwhelming number of people since our last council meeting. They want the city to remain named Londonderry.

"A decision was taken last month to seek more details from the DoE minister about how the name changing process would work.

"Challenges can be put forward to council if a minority is not happy and that's what we have done.

"There is a process that we can go through if this doesn't work out and that is a legal process.

"We wouldn't be exercising this particular challenge if we didn't think it would be successful.

"The DUP and other unionists didn't raise this in council but we will speak up if we are not happy about something."

The London prefix was added to Derry when the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I in 1613.

In 1984, the name of the nationalist-controlled council was changed from Londonderry to Derry City Council, but the city itself continues to be officially known as Londonderry.

The issue was addressed in the High Court in 2007 when the judge ruled that only legislation or Royal prerogative could change the city's name.

A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed that the challenge had been received.

The Council will be now seek legal advice as required by law and this will be brought before the council after the summer break.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment said: "The department has not been contacted by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

"Any correspondence received will be considered very carefully."

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