Unionists oppose change of ownership of Derry's Walls
UNIONISTS say they will oppose any move to transfer the ownership of Derry's walls to the city council.
The DUP and Ulster Unionist Party were responding to a call from Foyle MP Elisha McCallion for ownership of the walls to be taken over by Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Completed in 1618, the walls were constructed by the Honourable The Irish Society which still owns the historic structure. As a key defence during the 1688-89 Siege of Derry, the walls retain an iconic status among unionists.
Ms McCallion said that at present the walls, while owned by the Honourable the Irish Society, were managed by a number of groups. She said that single agency ownership would make management of the walls more efficient.
However DUP assembly member, Gary Middleton opposed the move saying unionists were concerned that any change could lead to controversy over who should be allowed to walk or be on the walls.
“I would urge extreme caution in any decision around change of ownership, particularly to the council. I believe the ownership which has existed for nearly 70 years should be kept for the good of all who love this iconic part of our city,” Mr Middleton said.
Ulster Unionist councillor Darren Guy said the walls were an integral part of the city's past and held a special place in the hearts of unionists.
The Honourable The Irish Society said any move to change ownership would require cross-party political support.