Die hard fans call for Undertones statue in Derry city centre

Tue, 11/10/2011 - 12:13 -- Editor

Two die-hard Undertones fans are calling for a permanent, physical tribute to the band that put Derry on the map.

Fans Alison Canney and Alan Giff say the city should truly sing the praises of the kings of punk and erect a statue in their honour.

“I'm calling on Derry City Council, the Arts Council, local artists to get their heads together and come up with something to honour the Undertones with a physical tribute,” says Alison. “Something like Phil Lynott's brass statue in Dublin City Centre. They have done so much for this city, really shone a positive light here during the darkest days of the Troubles, made people dance, sing. They have been going strong for some 30 years in the music business and are still making music. I think they are one of Derry's finest ambassadors and we should be singing their praises with some manner of street art. It would be a fantastic tourist attraction and be great for City of Culture year.”

Musician Alan Giff says the Undertones are woven into the fabric of this city’s rich tapestry and deserve to be honoured.

“I think that some tribute needs to be paid to this band,” he says. Whether it is a statue, a wall mural or indeed a street named after them.

“I am not sure about any iconic photos of the Undertones except the first album cover in Bull Park. But I think a statue or mural of the Subbuteo figure with the Derry City Colours from the My Perfect Cousin sleeve would look amazing.

“The Bogside Artists along with Marty Edwards from the Waterside would do a great mural. Marty is a huge fan and has the Undertones tattooed across his back. He does a lot of Undertones backdrops for their shows and he would jump at the chance to do a wall mural.”

Local SDLP councillor and one-time Tie The Boy rocker Gerry Diver says it’s time to get thinking on how we could move the idea forward.

“Having some sort of physical tribute to the Undertones is a fantastic idea,” he said. “Derry is world-renowned for its rich musical talents. The Undertones were an integral part of that reputation. They were at the very cutting edge of music back in the day and really shone the spotlight on Derry in a very positive way when we were more on the news for the Troubles.

“I think the Undertones are very worthy of a tribute – be that a mural or statue in the city centre.  They have played such an important role in the musical heritage of this city; they are certainly worthy of being celebrated.

“They inspired a lot of people, not only in music, but ordinary people who were looking for something positive, something light-hearted during the darkest days of the Troubles.

“We need to explore how best to fashion a fitting tribute.  There are a lot of bodies that have to be consulted, and a process that needs to be undertaken. It’s not just a matter of thinking it and it will be done. But I, for one, would be very supportive of the idea. And indeed the idea of celebrating other people from Derry who blazed a trail musically around the world. People like Dana and Phil Coulter. It would be fantastic to see their talents reflected in some way.”

Undertones drummer Billy Doherty said that he was honoured to be thought of with regards a tribute.

“We never considered anything like this could be suggested,” he said. “A statue or indeed a mural would be a great honour for us. We weren’t really championing anything back then. We were just doing what we loved, making music. I myself had two ambitions – one to have John Peel play our record, the other to be on Top of the Pops. A brass statue wasn’t really on the radar.

“Usually brass statues are erected after people pass on. We’re not dead! If this did happen at least we could say we really have brass necks.”

If the plans were to move forward a formal request must be submitted in writing to Derry City Council’s Town Clerk and Chief Executive for consideration by Council. The matter would then go before the appropriate committee for consideration by elected members.

A spokesperson for Derry City Council explained that no request has been received and it is not aware of any request of this nature. The Council spokesperson said it is working closely with the Culture Company to explore a range of ideas for celebrating local talent as part of the City of Culture programme in the run up to and during 2013.