The US economic envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, has said that dissident republicans will not affect Derry's bid to become the City of Culture in 2013.

Republic of Ireland prime minister Brian Cowen is expected to formally back Derry's bid to become the City of Culture.

Kelly said the issue of security and dissident republicans will be addressed by the authorities on both sides of the border.

“I believe that one of the compelling reasons to give Derry this opportunity is to send a message to these people, these cowards, if they think they’re going to derail the peace process they’re wrong,” said Kelly.

Kelly is confident that Derry will win in their bid to become the UK City of Culture. If Derry succeeds, up to 2,000 jobs would be created and up to $428 million will be brought to the region.

Derry is competing against cities such as Birmingham, Sheffield and Norwich; the final decision will be made in June.

Cowen said he was sure that Derry would prevail due to its rich cultural history and intense community spirit.

'That spirit has been harnessed by the entire community in supporting the City of Culture bid. If the bid is successful, Derry and the wider North West region will have a golden opportunity to showcase the vibrancy of its cultural life.”

Well worth the trip: The walled city of Derry in Northern Ireland