Petition to change city name from Londonderry to Derry by nationalists is rejected.Wikimedia

The British government has refused to change the name of Londonderry City to just Derry despite a 75 percent Catholic population who prefer the old Gaelic name of Derry, which means “oak.”

Thousands of people had signed opposing petitions over renaming the city to Derry.

However, a British Government spokesman in the Lords, Lord Dunlop, chief adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The Government, on occasion receives requests to change names of towns and cities.

"At this time the Government does not intend to change the name of the City of Londonderry."

The campaign led by Sinn Fein and nationalist parties to change back to the old name is sectarian according to Unionists.

Derry was one of the most gerrymandered political cities in Ireland in the lead-up to The Troubles, with Protestants dominating because there was no “One person, one vote” and property ownership allowed extra votes.

The nationalist petition said: "The name is a constant reminder to the families of the victims involved in incidents in Derry caused by the British occupation, therefore constantly reminding the families of the incidents."

"The name Londonderry causes social and political problems, reminds victims of the atrocities that have been committed there, causes problems identifying the city and is against what the people of Derry wish."

Ulster Unionist spokeswoman Julie Kee stated in opposition.

"London is one of the world's great cities and I believe we should cherish and seek to strengthen the historic ties between Londonderry and London."

The council in Derry has been known as the Derry City Council since 1984, but the city will officially remain Londonderry. In 2007 a judge ruled that only a law passed by the British parliament or a royal prerogative could change the name.