Manager for Derry's ancient walls would help economy

Derry's ancient walls are the city's key tourism attraction, according to Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Seamus McKinney

THERE have been renewed calls for a manager to be appointed to oversee Derry's walls.

An updated “Derry Walls Management Plan” has also highlighted a number of issues which, it claims, detract from the visitor experience at the walls.

These include the presence of “beggars and vagrants” on and around the walls as well as “abusive remarks and minor aggression” towards those walking on the walls.

The plan was drawn up by an inter-agency “management group” and coordinated by the Department for Communities (DfC).

Built as a defence for settlers given land in Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster, Derry's walls are the most complete in Ireland and draw thousands of tourists every year.

Other issues highlighted include people gathering on the walls to drink and take drugs.

The authors concluded: “This creates a negative atmosphere and also discourages casual visitors from enjoying the walls.”

Annual parades such as the Apprentice Boys marches, Orange Order parades and Halloween and New Year celebrations also had the potential to detract from Derry's image if not properly organised, the report says.

“In the past some of these events have started well and ended badly,” the report concluded.

The appointment of a Derry Walls manager was recommended as a means of realising the full potential of the walls for Derry's economic and social regeneration.

The reported recommended: “The management group should seek ways to find funding to appoint a dedicated coordinator to represent the management group who would coordinate day to day and strategic management tasks.”

Derry City and Strabane District Council spokesman Stephen Gillespie said the management plan was an important step in developing tourism in the city.

“As the city moves forward to realise its ambitious plans to increase tourist numbers and the time they stay in the city, it is vital that it's principal attraction, the city walls, are well maintained and welcoming to visitors,” Mr Gillespie said.

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