Councillors query plans for St Patrick’s Day arts event

The amount of money being spent on a proposed St Patrick’s Day multi-cultural arts event has been questioned.

At the recent meeting of Banbridge District Council’s Leisure and Development Committee, Councillor John Hanna expressed concern that £8,000 was being spent on the project planned to be held in Solitude Park on Saturday March 15 while funding for Mullahead ploughing match had been reduced by 50 per cent. Councillor Jim McElroy agreed with Mr Hanna.

The Director of Leisure and Development, Catriona Regan, explained that the ploughing matching is funded from the Community Festivals Fund and a considerable number of new applications for financial assistance were received this year.

Mr McElroy pointed out that there is no longer a pipe band contest in Banbridge and this was funded from the same budget.

However, Councillor Seamus Doyle said that Mullahead Ploughing Society had “a considerable amount of money in the bank”.

The Director also explained that the event is in addition to the budget allowance for St Patrick’s Day - something which alarmed Councillor Glenn Barr.

Mr Barr commented that he felt £8,000 was “excessive” for an arts project considering a substantial sum has already been set aside for St Patrick’s day events.

He said: “Around £10,000 has been set aside already for St Patrick’s Day and another £8,000 is a bit much for a festival regardless of what it is.”

Councillor Carol Black requested the Head of Community Services arrange for further information on St Patrick’s Day events to be provided at the next committee meeting.

The Director said that the arts project will encourage creativity and the finalised pieces of art could be showcased at the F E McWilliam Gallery or the Old Town Hall.

If given the green light, this proposed arts initiative involving youth organisations from across the district will include a professional artist being commissioned to assist with workshops for young people.

It is anticipated that the finalised pieces of art will be showcased at the event.