Monthly Archives: June 2017

Ulster Rally set to return to Walled City

A host of Rally stars joined organisers and special guests at the historic Guildhall Square, Londonderry, for the launch of the 2017 John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally. Returning to Derry City and Strabane for the second year promises both competitors and race fans an action packed weekend of motorsport throughout Derry and Strabane on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 August 2017.

This year the Rally welcomes contenders from the FIA European Rally Trophy (Celtic Cup), the MSA Prestone British Rally Championship and the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. Stages again feature the full breadth of Counties Londonderry and Tyrone with two regroups, one in Derry/Londonderry’s Guild Hall Square on Friday and the other in Strabane Town Centre on Saturday of the event.

John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally Event Director, Robert Harkness is excited about returning to the Maiden City for this year’s event;

“It is an honour to be returning to such a prestigious venue as the Guild Hall to launch the second year of the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally in this historic City. We have the ideal event base at Ebrington Square with two new regroups this year in Derry and Strabane and a host of classic and challenging stages throughout the region”.

“But it’s not just the venue and stages that make these events, the stars of the event are the drivers, co-drivers and their cars and this year’s Ulster Rally promises a fantastic array of machinery crossing the start ramp in the Guildhall Square at lunchtime on Friday 18 August. We have a great selection of local competitors, many of them young and some very young, who are already making their mark in the sport. Callum Devine, Marty Gallagher and Gordon Noble venture successfully well outside Ireland; we also have Alan Atcheson, Joe McGonigle and Eathan McColgan. And what about our motorcycle racer Michael Dunlop who is now firmly caught up in rallying ?

We welcome the MSA Prestone British Rally Championship back to the Ulster Rally stages and we are looking forward to the battle for supremacy between the R5 cars in the British series and the Irish Tarmac Championship regulars. We are hopeful that our local home-grown talent will again be fighting for pole position in their respective categories in all the major championships included in this year’s event.

Robert continues; “It’s great returning to a venue for the second year and this which could only be made possible by our sponsors Derry City and Strabane District Council and John Mulholland Motors, along with Tourism NI and Visit Derry, our local stage sponsors and the 800 volunteers who give of their time so generously. The plan’s in place to make 2017 the best event yet.”

Headline Sponsor, John Mulholland Motors is based in Randalstown and Campsie and John himself was one of the first to put in his entry for this year’s event.

“This is our second year of a three-year agreement as main sponsors of the Ulster Rally, an event I have been competing in since 1994.

This year is extra special for us as it marks my 25th anniversary of participation in this iconic motorsport event. To celebrate I will be behind the wheel of a new Skoda Fabia R5 sporting a black and gold livery in recognition of us wining the UK Skoda retailer of the year (for the second time).”

Welcoming the event back to the City is Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh; “I am absolutely delighted that the Rally organisers have teamed up with our local club – Maiden City Motor Club – to bring this prestigious sporting event to the North West region for the second year in a row. It’s also great to have our local sponsor, John Mulholland from Campsie on board once again.

In terms of economic benefit for the city and region, the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally will have a huge impact in terms of bringing visitors to the City who will stay locally and hopefully spend money at our local restaurants, shops and bars. We are confident the Rally will create a great buzz and excitement across Derry and Strabane throughout the month of August.

Entries for the event are now open and the organisers, The Northern Ireland Motor Club Ltd anticipate a top line up of local and International competitors and a host of the frontrunners from the various Irish and Northern Ireland Rally Championships. Also included in this year’s Ulster Rally programme is the popular Historic section and the recently introduced Junior category.

Rally Guide is available to download from the competitors section of the website

For latest news and updates on the events, check out the website or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ulsterrally


Council seek public’s input on arts and culture strategy

Derry City and Strabane District Council have launched a consultation process to allow interested parties to have an input in shaping the region’s arts and culture strategy for the next five years.

A Co-Design group of local representatives from a range of arts and culture disciplines has already been formed to assist Council officers and strategic partners on the development of the strategy.

The group held its first meeting at the Ulster Bank offices in the City last week and will now host a series of workshops from Monday June 26th until Wednesday June 28th.

The sessions are inviting individual artists, practitioners, organisations and venues to give their input for the strategy for 2017-2022 that will be finalised in September.

John Kerr, Arts and Culture Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, encouraged anyone with an interest in arts and culture in the city to take ownership of the process by attending the workshops.

“This is an ideal opportunity for anyone working or with an interest in our local arts and culture sector to tell us their vision and help shape a strong and ambitious strategy for the years ahead,” he said.

“The informed contribution we receive at these workshops is essential if we are to design a strategy that allows us to fully realise our arts and culture potential and compliments our wider Community Plan for the Council area.

“The strategy aims to build upon the legacy of the 2013 UK City of Culture Year by encouraging a culture of collaboration and articulating a clear direction of travel for a strong and ambitious arts and culture sector within the North West.

“It will reflect and support the ambitions of Council and its partners in the pursuit of world class designations such as European City of Culture status.”

The Co-Design group is chaired by Verbal Arts Chief Executive James Kerr who said he was looking forward to the process of working with Council and other interested parties on how best to take the City and District’s Arts and Culture strategy forward.
“The establishment of a Co-Design group by Derry City & Strabane District Council to develop an Arts & Culture strategy that supports and contributes to the wider Community plan is an exciting new initiative,” he said.

“The main legacy of the City of Culture in 2013 was a general recognition that Arts & Culture can and will play a significant role in the social and economic life of the City & District.

“This open, accessible Co-Design process is a fantastic opportunity for everyone who has an interest in arts and culture to contribute to the next stage of local development.

“I am delighted to Chair the Co-Design group which represents a wide range of views and expertise and look forward to working with the Council and all interested parties to develop an Arts & Culture strategy which will set out a dynamic view of creative activity for the next 5 years.”

The full list of workshop dates, times and venues is available online at Sessions will include the following sectors: Participatory/Community Arts including Circus Carnival and Street Arts, Individual Artists and Practitioners, Music, Visual Arts, Crafts and Cinematic Arts, Literature, Community Festivals, Tier Two Festivals and Events, Arts and Cultural Venues (Various), Drama, Performing Arts and Dance, Heritage and Museums.

Anyone wishing to get involved are asked to confirm their attendance indicating which workshop they will be attending by e mailing


Public urged to have their say on vital plans for Derry City & Strabane District

The public consultation for the draft Strategic Growth Plan and the Local Development Plan Preferred Options Paper is well underway, and people are reminded that further information sessions will be taking place throughout June.

The strategies are the result of an extensive campaign of public engagement and everyone can have a say in how they now take shape by providing their feedback at a series of public meetings or online.

The Strategic Growth Plan is the City and District’s Community Plan which sets out the long-term vision for the development and improvement of the social, economic and environmental well-being of the DCSDC area.

The Local Development Plan Preferred Options Paper sets out the Council’s initial proposals and policy direction, hopefully stimulating public feedback and comment and helping interested parties to become involved in a more meaningful way at this earliest stage of Plan preparation.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, urged local people to read both strategies and to consider their potential impact on the City and District going forwards. “Community Planning is a new power for Council and one which we must properly utilise, working with our partners to drive positive change across all areas of the district. The Local Development Plan will assist the delivery of the Strategic Growth Plan by guiding development and encouraging investment, co-ordinating infrastructure for our people and protecting our environment to beyond 2032

“These strategies map the way forward until 2032, so it’s important that we ensure at the planning stage that they reflect the genuine needs and aspirations of all those who live in our community. This will give us a strong platform on which we can base the successful delivery of both the Strategic Growth Plan and its spatial realisation in the LDP.”

Head of Planning with Council, Maura Fox, said: “We hope that the Preferred Options Paper for the LDP will stimulate public debate and feedback as we seek to develop a comprehensive and fit-for-purpose development framework for the sustainable development of the District.

“The public meetings provide the opportunity for everyone – not just industry experts – to come along and give their views on the options laid out in the paper, and to have a direct influence on how we shape the future development of our District.”

A series of events are now taking place throughout the month to give the public more insight into both reports and to gauge their views. These meetings are being held at a variety of venues across the District Electoral Areas during both afternoons and evenings to give everyone with an interest the opportunity to attend.

To find out more about the public consultation roadshow events in your area, see the press advertisements and information at the Council Offices, public buildings and social media. For further details, go to

To read the full digital copy of the draft Community Plan, go to

To read the Preferred Options Paper for the Local Development Plan and contribute your views, go to


Summer Jamm a huge success in Strabane

‘Summer Jamm’ took over Strabane at the weekend as large crowds attended events from Friday 9th until Sunday 11th June. The event brought the best of rock, pop, country, Irish folk and brass music to town alongside family friendly events, a local market, arts and crafts and workshops throughout the three day festival.

Thousands turned out over the long weekend to enjoy the events, which were organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council and supported by SGN Natural Gasand the Strabane Business Improvement District (BIDS).

The year’s celebrations featured Strabane’s finest brass bands, a country music festival and an outdoor music festival featuring top acts such as; The Blizzards, Ryan McMullan, Roisin O, David James, Cliona Hagan and Johnny Brady.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, joined crowds around town on Saturday afternoon. He said, “I was delighted to attend the Summer Jamm celebrations in Strabane. As one of my first engagements as Mayor it was a great opportunity to meet the people of Strabane and those visiting the town for festival.

“Council is dedicated to providing high quality, family friendly events to ensure people of all ages can enjoy them. It was great to see crowds out enjoying and supporting the festival programme and what a way start to our summer season. The town was transformed with music, song and dance throughout the weekend and I was glad to see so many young people involved in the festival and hear everyone was enjoying it. I would like to congratulate and thank all the event sponsors, those who organised the event and of course everyone who took part.”

There were lots of free events and activities throughout the weekend with street entertainers, market stalls, live music and kid’s zones. Local talent was also out in force to compete in the annual busking competition, organised by Martin Gallen of the Strabane Chamber of Commerce. The competition offered a top prize of £1000, won by ’1980 Something’, and second and third prizes of £400 and £200.

Michael Kelly, Strabane BID Company who provided Summer Jamm’s Saturday evening concert said BID in Strabane was delighted to provide high profile acts for the concert, she added, “We are very pleased with the feedback we have received on Saturday night’s concert. To attract acts such as The Blizzards, Roisin O and Ryan McMullan to perform was a real coup for us and we were delighted to bring an event of this scale to the town to help develop our tourism potential and inevitably build our local economy. This year’s festival is hopefully the start of a showpiece annual event for Strabane, we’re already excited for what Summer Jamm 2018 will bring!”

Darren Young, Head of Business Development at SGN Natural Gas said; ‘This summer marks a significant milestone in the Gas to the West development as we will soon be connecting our first domestic customer. Getting involved in the Summer Jamm has been a great way to celebrate this achievement.’

‘We are delighted to be actively involved in local events such as the Summer Jamm which highlights our commitment to the Strabane area. We very much look forward to supporting this event next year and have every confidence it will further build on the success of this year.’

Mr Young concluded ‘Residents in Strabane wishing to be updated on Gas to the West can find further information at’

For more information on Derry City and Strabane District Council’s forthcoming events, visit


Summer School of Rock launched at the Alley


The Alley Theatre have launched its Summer School of Rock inviting kids aged seven years and above to unleash their inner rock star and sign up to a five day summer programme running from 17th until 21st July at the Alley.

During the five day programme children will receive music lessons from professional teaching staff. There will be lessons on guitar and drums, singing and song writing, music reading and rhythm games.

Kids can learn and explore musical and technical requirements for stage, lighting and sound from the stage technical staff at the Alley Theatre. They will also have a chance to dabble in recording, digital uploading and have the opportunity to perform live in front of family and friends in the perfect rock’n’roll setting – on stage at The Alley Theatre.

The course is designed to nurture confidence and bring out the best in young people both on and off stage. It intends to encourage creativity, effective communication, planning and build on teamwork skills while ensuring a great deal of fun is had by all! The programme may also provide opportunities for participants to perform in upcoming productions of the Arts Academy.

The Summer School of Rock is delivered by the creative production team of The Arts Academy, who are the creators of the highly acclaimed and sellout shows; ‘Balo Balo’, ‘Gutz’, ‘Mulan’ and ‘Spook House’ and will be facilitated by Gerry Strawbridge and David Oliver.

Registration to the Summer School of Rock costs £50.00 with discounts available to those booking two and three children as part of a group. A light lunch will be provided every day. For more information visit The Alley Theatre’s website at or telephone 028 7137 4444.