03 December 2015

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion is hopeful that Derry and Strabane District Council will develop a sister city relationship with Berkeley in the United States.

Speaking following a recent four-day visit to Berkeley and the wider San Francisco Bay area, Mayor McCallion said the meetings were extremely positive and she was quietly confident a formal arrangement between the two cities could be established.

She said: “Berkeley and Derry have very close connections and they are both very similar in terms of their history and outlook.  The trip last month was hugely successful and provided me with a great opportunity to further develop those links and connections and tap into their economy to identify new opportunities for investment, education and culture. Council will be attending the Sister Cities Summit in Dublin in the spring of next year to further pursue this proposal and we will also be extending an invitation to the Mayor of Berkeley and his team to visit Derry prior to the summit in an effort to further bridge the relationship between the cities.”

One of the positive outcomes of the trip was as a result of meetings with academics from the University of California, Berkeley, who agreed to send 20 of its students to the Ulster University’s Irish Language Summer School in 2016 and a further 30 students in 2017 and thereafter.

Dr Malachy Ó Néill, Head of the School of Irish Language and Literature at Ulster University said that he was delighted to welcome the additional students to the growing international provision at Magee Campus.

During the trip, the Mayor met with Invest NI and their West Coast team to update them on recent developments in Derry.  The Mayor chaired a breakfast meeting with key members of the North West Diaspora in the Bay Area and also with a number of companies with potential investments into NI and Derry.  There were specific discussions with members of the Diaspora around stimulating philanthropic investment into initiatives such as a scholarship fund for US students to Derry/Strabane.

The visit very successful in forging real and positive links with Berkeley and it is hoped that this will bring new opportunities for Derry and Strabane in the months and years ahead.