Declan Kelly, the U.S. Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, today congratulated  Derry on its selection as the first ever UK City of Culture. Derry overcame strong competition from the three other finalists Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield to win the opportunity to host the city of culture celebrations in 2013.

The Office of the U.S. Economic Envoy has actively supported the bid. Envoy Kelly has travelled to Derry on numerous occasions to work with the team and was also one of the ten pitch members, along with deputy First Minister McGuinness and Minister Newton, who presented to the selection committee in Liverpool last month. In addition, senior members of his staff have been working closely with the bid team since January of this year.

“Winning the title UK City of Culture 2013 is a tremendous achievement for the city of Derry  and for Northern Ireland has a whole. I have had the opportunity to visit the city on a number of occasions in recent months and have enjoyed very much working with the bid team to help support their great achievements in securing this win today,” said Envoy Kelly.

“This victory is extremely important for the region as Derry win will have significant economic impact on all of Northern Ireland. The UK City of Culture brings the potential for thousands of new jobs as well as much-needed investment and revenue to the region. It is precisely because of the economic impact, that I became involved early on in the process. This is not just about culture, but about long-term economic opportunities and prosperity for  the people of Northern Ireland in a broad range of industries including tourism, film, creative media,  event management, hospitality, and many more.”

“There can be no doubt as to what the win has already accomplished for Derry  and for all of Northern Ireland. We have seen the community come together and rally behind the bid and we have seen an outpouring of support from around the world for Derry.”

“Derry will continue to have my full support and my office will remain committed to the City of Culture team as it prepares for 2013. I will continue to showcase the region and promote the already strong ties between the United States and Northern Ireland. It is a time for rejuvenation, celebration and looking forward. It is a new day, a new dawn and a truly new platform for the economic regeneration of Northern Ireland as a whole".

“I would like to congratulate Aideen McGinley, Valerie Watts and the rest of the bid team for the months of hard work and dedication they put into making this victory possible. I would also like to commend First Minister Robinson, deputy First Minister McGuinness, Mayor Eastwood and countless supporters from around the globe. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the effort over the last six months to bring this prize home and I am delighted that all the hard work we did together has borne this wonderful result, ” concluded Envoy Kelly.