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20/10/2021

Derry councillors have decided that it is too 'premature' to cancel the city's annual Christmas Market

Festive event is held annually in the Guildhall Square

Derry councillors have decided that it is too 'premature' to cancel the city's annual Christmas Market

The Christmas Market has been held at the Guildhall Square in recent years.

Derry councillors have decided that it is too 'premature' to cancel the city's annual Christmas Market.

In recent years, the market has been staged in the Guildhall Square for several weeks in the run-up to Christmas.

However, there remains uncertainty over whether the market and other festive events will be able to proceed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A decision on whether or not to go ahead this year with the Christmas Market, which is run separately from the monthly Walled City Market in the Guildhall Square, was discussed at a meeting this week of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Business and Culture Committee.

The meeting was held just hours after it was announced that the massive annual Christmas Market in the grounds of the City Hall in Belfast had been cancelled for this year.

At the local Council meeting, DUP Alderman Graham Warke proposed that Derry's Christmas Market also be cancelled so as not to place more work on council staff, with the possibility that the market could eventually be cancelled anyway.

His proposal was seconded by his party colleague, David Ramsey.

However, Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue said the proposal had been 'sprung on' the committee and the issue needed more discussion before a decision could be taken.

Cllr Logue said the annual market was always targeted towards local traders and she believed it was a 'wee bit premature' to be calling it off.

Stephen Gillespie, the council's Director of Business and Culture, told the meeting that council officers would implement whatever decision the councillors take.

However, he added that, unlike the Belfast market, which had a big 'lead in' time, there would be no 'financial impediment' on the local council by postponing a decision on whether to go ahead with the Guildhall Square market this year.

Independent Councillor Raymond Barr said he also believed it a 'bit premature' to be cancelling the local market.

He highlighted the 'gloom and despair' in the community as a result of the pandemic and he supported holding off on a final decision about the market to see how things develop.

SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell said he supported suggestions that it was too soon to be calling off the event, but added that it was a situation that should be kept under review.

Following the comments from his fellow councillors, Alderman Warke said he was prepared to withdraw his proposal. He said his motivation was public safety but suggested that councillors and council officials keep in communication about the plans for the market.

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