James Nesbitt: Derry is powerhouse

JAMES Nesbitt has spoken with delight at the news Londonderry is the new UK City of Culture.

The Coleraine actor had backed the city's bid and said the award acknowledged Derry's rich cultural heritage.

"This decision confirms what many of us in the province and further afield have known for many years - that Derry-Londonderry is a cultural powerhouse," said James, who is now Chancellor of the University of Ulster, which has a campus in the city.

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"Whether it is writers like Seamus Heaney and Seamus Deane, songwriters and performers like Phil Coulter or the Undertones, artists like Willie Doherty, film-makers like Margo Harkin and Tom Collins, or actors like Amanda Burton, Roma Downey and Bronagh Gallagher, the city has asserted a huge influence on the arts internationally.

"It is great to see that creativity and talent being recognised and rewarded and I know the university is looking forward to playing its part in a programme of events which will do Derry-Londonderry and the province proud."

The City of Culture title, which comes with no Government funding, is designed to help areas boost their economy through tourism and the creative industries.

Derry had been vying for the status against Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield.