Congratulations to Derry on winning UK City of Culture 2013. The city has a vibrant heart and becoming better known by more people will benefit Britain and Ireland as well as Derry itself. It is good luck on my part that I was in Derry and able to sign up there to support the bid very much as a latecomer just four days before they were successful. As my father was schooled in Derry, my grandmother from there and I've spent many happy occasions visiting family and visiting with friends I was pleased to support the city's bid.
Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield are fine cities. Good friends and family know Sheffield and Norwich well and speak highly of them as places to live, work, study and visit. Birmingham became one of my favourite places to visit in the UK over the last couple of years and I am a big fan. I recommend it to others (as reported elsewhere in my essay on the regeneration of British cities, particularly northern cities, in the downloads section of this website). Derry won City of Culture, though, for the same reasons that Liverpool won European Capital of Culture. It won not just because of known and less well known talent, not because of the great public facilities and attractions for residents and visitors and new comers. It won because of what it would do with City of Culture to regenerate Derry, the north west of Ireland and to put it on the map.
My congratulations to Birmingham, Sheffield and Norwich and the others who applied on the work put into their bids, all of which is useful work for raising their profile and achieving more recognition. Birmingham does not need City of Culture it is already a great European City. Derry will use this title to build on what it has achieved so far. Its people will respond to the challenge, and if in a small way this shows how backward the minority are who want to plunge Northern Ireland back into the past, the extremists, louts and bar room tribesmen on both sides, then it is a good result. Some of those who like to spend their Summers throwing stones and rioting will even decide that contributing positively to their society and country is a better idea.