Northern Ireland news

Council rejects call for City of Derry Airport closure

Derry City and Strabane District Council voted to keep City of Derry Airport open.
Seamus McKinney

DERRY City and Strabane District Council has rejected calls for the temporary closure of City of Derry Airport to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The council held an emergency confidential meeting yesterday to discuss concerns that the airport, which is owned by the local authority, was being used by English passengers as a “backdoor” for travel to EU countries.

Independent members Paul Gallagher and Gary Donnelly sought the meeting last week after the executive refused to ban travel between Northern Ireland and Britain following the emergence of new variant Covid-19. Several European countries, including the Republic, closed travel with Britain.

The two councillors claimed passengers were using Northern Ireland airports to circumvent a ban on flights between Britain and many mainland Europe countries.

The councillors said: “We have seen the Stormont executive fail to take any action on this matter which will result in this airport being used as a backdoor to gain entry to Europe for unnecessary holidays and greatly exposes our constituents to the new and more deadlier strain of this new virus which is rampant within the London region which is served by this airport.”

However, councillors yesterday rejected Mr Gallagher’s proposal that it be closed by 21 votes to 17. Independent council members were joined by Sinn Féin and People before Profit in supporting the call while SDLP, Alliance and Unionist members opposed closure.

The council, instead, supported a proposal from SDLP member, Martin Reilly that the authority write to the executive asking it to review its decision not to ban travel between the north and Britain.

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