Derry farmer and businessman John Gilliland ended his 7 years service as a Harbour Commissioner when he retired after two terms on the board.  “When you have been part of such a successful organisation for so long a period of time it is sad to leave, but new blood should come in and that is very healthy,” says Mr Gilliland. 

 John was first appointed as a Harbour Commissioner in 2004 and says he was both surprised and delighted to be asked to join the board.  “In my opinion, the port is undervalued and under-recognised in our community and I hoped I could bring something to the running of the port and help in the port’s success – thus also supporting the wider region, as it is a public trust port.”

 He’s more than happy to admit that he has enjoyed his time with the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners. “First of all, there is a good healthy strong team running the port today and working with such a dynamic team gave you both a sense of enjoyment and a sense of achievement.”

 Secondly, it was good to be directly involved in making sure that the port was delivering on its core functions of making sure that the Lough and the River are navigable for commercial and leisure traffic; giving value for money to our customers and re-investing any surplus created back into the port’s future development to secure this vital resource for the economy of the North West region.”

 John also admits that there have been challenges involved. “I think for me the biggest frustration was when we had potential new investment and development opportunities which needed planning permission or environmental approval from statutory agencies.  The agencies took such a long to respond that we lost a few opportunities which could have been very beneficial to the local economy, such as the Fish Processing Plant.”

 As he looks ahead to the port’s future, he would like to see a stronger relationship between the river and the city.  “We, as citizens of the North West, totally underuse the river and the Lough.  They are a great resource that over the last 50 years have been under-utilised. The staging of maritime events and the visits of cruise ships have made some difference but I am particularly delighted that the Clipper Round the World race is coming to Derry. I think it will help us realise the potential that remains to be tapped.” 

 For information contact: Trish Hegarty, Inis Communications on +353 861740057.