Belfast and Londonderry barred from European Capital of Culture

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The Director General of Education and Culture at the European Commission, Martine Reicherts, has confirmed Londonderry's and Belfast's worst fears - neither will be eligible for the European Capital of Culture title in 2023 as a result of Brexit.

Ms. Reichert dealt the hammer blow in a letter to the Conservative Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Karen Bradley, which was issued on behalf of the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Mr Tibor Navracsics

The Big Fish or the Salmon of Knowledge in Belfast.

The Big Fish or the Salmon of Knowledge in Belfast.

She wrote: "I would like to inform you that following its withdrawal from the European Union, the participation of the United Kingdom in the European Capital of Culture Union action will not be possible.

"Indeed, according to the rules adopted by the European Parliament and the Council (Decision 445/2014/EU), this action is not open to third countries, except for candidate countries and EFTA/EEA countries under strictly defined conditions (see Article 3 'Access to the Action').

"As a consequence of the above and also on grounds of sound and responsible management of human and financial resources, the Commission considers that the selection commission should immediately be discontinued."

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council have expressed concern from the get-go that Brexit would torpedo the joint Londonderry/Belfast bid for European Capital of Culture status.

The Peace Bridge in Londonderry.

The Peace Bridge in Londonderry.

Backing the Londonderry bid in February, Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper said: “In relation to the Brexit scenario, the fact that we are even discussing it shows in its own light how disastrous it could be for all of us.”