Politicians from the four main parties on Derry City and Strabane District Council attended the official launch, this afternoon, of a new public realm scheme at All Saints’ Church, Clooney by the Mayor, Cllr Patricia Logue.

Congratulating the various partners, the Mayor also thanked the Department for Communities, without whose funding — she said — the scheme would not have been possible.

The landscaping project — which was developed in partnership by the church, the local community and the Council — allows for public access to part of the church site, in which one of the city’s historical treasures, the Clooney Cannon (a relic of the Crimean War’), is displayed.

The idea for the scheme arose from a conversation between the DUP peer, Lord Hay, and the chairman of Bonds Street Community Association, Lloyd Magee, six or seven years ago. The pair contacted the Rector of All Saints’, Clooney, Rev Canon David McBeth, Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Regeneration Manager, Tony Monaghan, and Shona Campbell from the Council’s Regeneration Section, and between them the project was brought to fruition.

The result is a new paved area on Clooney Terrace, and an attractive display space open to passers-by, which allows them to see and touch the Crimean War cannon.

Speaking at the event in All Saints Church, Canon McBeth said the cannon was a war ‘treasure’, but it also reminded people of the sadness and destruction that war brings. “We see that clearly now,” he said, “on our screens, in the conflict between Palestine and Israel, and the war in Ukraine. We see that in the conflict here, in our own community. But we want this [space] to be a place where people can come together, and a sit together, and show the love of Christ to one another, and help and support one another.”

Mr Magee spoke to those present about the evolution of the project, from the idea’s initial conception right through to its launch. Mr Monaghan gave a short and informative presentation about the project’s development, including the various problems it had to overcome, such as the relocation of an electricity sub-station and, of course, the recent Covid pandemic. The launch concluded with a talk by local historian Mark Lusby about the significance of the site on which the church itself was built.

After photographs, clergy, politicians, Council officials and members of the local community enjoyed a light lunch together in the church building.