Londonderry could become derry: “London” prefix introduced in 1613 could be deleted as councilors and public look for change.Wikicommons

The Derry City and Strabane District Council have voted in favour of moving to officially changing the name of Londonderry to Derry. Unionists are describing the decision, voted upon on Thursday evening, as “sectarian” and “disgusting.”

The vote passed with the full support of Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the Independent councillors, despite opposition from the minority unionist block. The council will now write to Environment Minister Mark H Durkan of the SDLP, on how to go about the change. Durkan is himself a native of Derry.

According to 28 councillors voted to seek advice on how to change the name, with nine voting against. Close to 2,000 people have signed an online petition backing the change.

The “London” prefix was added to the city under the royal charter of King James I, in 1613.

In 1984, under the nationalist-controlled council was changed to Derry. However the city itself was still officially known by its longer name.

The issue of Derry’s name went to the High Court in 2007. The judged ruled that only legislation or Royal prerogative could change its name.

This Thursday, Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley brought the motion to Derry city council.

He told the BBC “In the previous Derry City Council there was a clear policy to change the official name of the city back to Derry.

"Unfortunately that proposal was defeated by the DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] and SDLP so we're simply revisiting the issue and yesterday's decision now seeks again to change the official name."

He added that his proposal was not attempting to airbrush London from the city’s history.

McGinley said "We have a clear view that the city needs a clear brand, one single name, one single identity would help promote the city around the world."

DUP councillor David Ramsey said McGinley’s motion was another attempt to stir up tensions.

"If republican and nationalists politicians in the city are serious about equality and a shared future we should be celebrating our connection with London,” he said.

"We should also be celebrating our diversity of our British and Irish cultures and history which includes the historical name Londonderry after the stonemasons who built the city.

"It creates sectarian tension and how does this reflect upon the nationalist republican goal to achieve a shared future?"

All previous attempts for the name change have failed.