Londonderry map name row ‘insulting’ to unionists

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The “over-reaction” of Fianna Fail senators to the use of the place name ‘Londonderry’ on a map produced by a government body in the Irish Republic is “insulting” to unionists, a DUP MLA has said.

The Constituency Commission, appointed by the Irish government last month, used the official name ‘Londonderry’ rather than ‘Derry’ on a map of Ireland, provoking anger amongst members of the Seanad (Senate).

Donegal Fianna Fail Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill said he was shocked by the use of the term ‘Londonderry’ on the map.

“I was taken aback by the recent Constituency Commission report which showed the city of Derry as Londonderry on its map. This was done by a government agency here,” he said.

“That should be addressed and should never, ever be allowed to happen again, when it is paid for by the Irish taxpayer.”

His Westmeath-based party colleague Aidan Davitt went further still, commenting that the use of ‘Londonderry’ on the state agency’s map was “scandalous”.

Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton described the Irish politicians’ remarks as “over dramatic”, since Londonderry was the official name for the city and the county.

He said: “It’s an over-reaction. Factually, the name of the city is Londonderry so I don’t see what the problem is.

“They are complaining about a map that is correct. Surely those politicians have bigger issues that they need to be looking at.

“It actually reflects badly on the individuals, who have really let themselves down with being so concerned about the name Londonderry on a map.

“It shows that some people do have some way to go in terms of respecting not only Northern Ireland as a country but also the counties within it.

“What he needs to remember is that the official name is Londonderry so to come out and complain and be shocked and over dramatic about the official name appearing on the map, to me, is quite sad.”

Mr Middleton added: “Look, I appreciate the fact that there are people who use the name Derry or they sometimes prefer to call it the Maiden City and all sorts of other things, but the official name is Londonderry and that is what should be on a map.

“To somehow raise an issue with that, yes, some people will see it as insulting. You can’t just airbrush out letters that you don’t like.”

Mr Middleton said he didn’t mind if people preferred to use ‘Derry’ in conversation but said Londonderry should be used on any official documentation.

“People are entitled to call it whatever they like, that’s their view, but to bring out such an over-reaction when it comes to official maps and official documentation is just over dramatic.

“I have always held the view that the city and the county should be called by its correct name.”

He continued: “There is so much positive work going on around the city at the minute and distractions from representatives who – with all due respect – don’t even represent this area, I think is very unfortunate.”