Northern Ireland news

Tests carried out on quay ahead of Derry Clipper festival

Thousands of people converge on Queen's Quay for the Foyle Maritime Festival.
Seamus McKinney

DERRY and Strabane council is continuing with plans for next month’s Foyle Maritime Festival despite some concerns over the structure of Queen’s Quay which forms the hub of the event.

A special “load test” was carried out at Queen’s Quay early on Sunday after a Department for Infrastructure (DfI) report warning of possible structural issues was presented to councillors in a confidential session last week. In a subsequent discussion, a number of councillors asked if parts of Queen’s Quay were at risk of collapse.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to converge on Queen’s Quay during the Maritime Festival which will coincide with the arrival in Derry of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. It will be the fifth time the city has hosted a stop-over for the international race.

Councillors were told the DfI report warned that parts of Queen’s Quay - reclaimed from the River Foyle in the late 1980s and early 1990s - had “theoretically” outlived their lifespan and needed attention.

While neither DfI nor Derry and Strabane council would comment on the confidential report, both confirmed tests were held at the site on Sunday. A spokesman for DFI said the load test was part of “Queen’s Quay structural management arrangements”.

The spokesman said: “This is part of ongoing monitoring of the site to provide assurance ahead of the Foyle Maritime Festival next month."

Some areas along Queen’s Quay were closed to facilitate ongoing monitoring of the site by DfI on Sunday. This included a “small number of car parking spaces".

A council spokeswoman said: “The work is part of a series of measures that are in place as part of the Queen’s Quay Structural Management arrangements by DfI. The monitoring is to provide assurance regarding the condition of the quay structure in relation to the holding of major events such as the Foyle Maritime Festival. The council is continuing with its plans for the Foyle Maritime Festival that will take place next month.”

Stretching from Harbour Square to Strand Road Roundabout, Queen’s Quay is occupied by a number of car parks and is the site of pedestrian walkways and cycle paths. The area is used by thousands of commuters on a daily basis.

During next month’s festival, (July 20 to 22), Queen’s Quay will be used for food trails, workshops, live music and other events.

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