Traders furious as Derry Girls TV shoot closes main shopping area
A row has flared after some traders objected to plans to close one of Londonderry’s main streets for the filming of Derry Girls.
Thousands of fans of the hit Channel 4 comedy are set to gather at Shipquay Street to watch proceedings next week.
The multi-award-winning show depicts the trials and tribulations of four school girls — Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her cousin Orla (Louisa Harland) and their friends Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle (JamieLee O’Donnell) and Michelle’s English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn) in Derry in the Nineties set against a backdrop of the Troubles.
Series one took audiences by storm when the show aired on Channel 4, which quickly commissioned a second series.
A temporary road closure will be in place on Abercorn Road on Wednesday, November 14, and Shipquay Street and Shipquay Place — one of the main thoroughfares — on Thursday and Friday, November 15 and 16.
But some business owners are opposed to the shutdown.
Eight traders from the Shipquay Street and Shipquay Place area signed a letter stating their concerns to the council.
In the letter, the traders — whose names are not listed — said: “We are already in extremely difficult trading conditions and this would be an unreasonable burden at any time and more so at the start of the Christmas trading.
“... this is because we believe that the decision to close Shipquay Street, a main shopping area for the town, during trading hours, is unreasonable and the council is acting Ultra Vires [a Latin expression meaning ‘beyond one’s legal power’] in making this decision.”
However, city centre manager Jim Roddy highlighted the benefits of having the production in Derry’s most identifiable street.
He said: “In and around £250m has been spent by NI Screen in various productions, but this is the first time such a big production has come to our city centre that entails a street closure.
“The production company Hat Trick told me they do not want to present ‘fake Derry’, which is why they want the filming to go ahead on Shipquay Street and that is something that will I think bring long-term benefits to everyone trading on the streets.”
Mr Roddy said he hoped fans of Derry Girls would come to see Shipquay Street for themselves and spend money in the city.
He added: “They have already taken 350 bed nights; they will be spending their money in our bars and restaurants and other shops and will be employing local security companies so there are immediate benefits to be had as well.
“All this is great, but if you are an independent trader on Shipquay Street who thinks they may be losing money, they have every right to object and I have every sympathy with them, but I think in the long term everyone will benefit.”
Shipquay Street and Guildhall Square will be closed to traffic all day on Thursday with a stopand-go system in operation on Friday. However, pedestrians will be able to move freely both days.
❝ This is the first time such a big production entails a street closure in the city centre
The stars of Derry Girls could attractthousands to Shipquay Street. Below: The series writer Lisa McGee