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Councillors see red over St Patrick’s Day ‘light-up’ costs

Consideration had been given to spending £40,000 on lighting up buildings in Armagh for St Patrick’s Day next year.

The revelation came at a meeting of Armagh City and District Council’s executive committee, when a report on next year’s festivities was looked at.

Sinn Fein Cllr Mary Doyle referred to the “colossal amount of money” which was proposed for lighting up buildings.

SDLP Cllr Gerald Mallon enquired if some buildings were already lit and simply required the colour of lighting to be changed.

The director of the Market Place Theatre told the meeting that investigations had been made regarding this but the gel which would be needed to change the colour of lighting was not strong enough.

She continued that initially the cost of lighting up various buildings had been £40,000, but it was now proposed to reduce the number of buildings substantially.

DUP Cllr Gareth Wilson asked which buildings were proposed to be included in the plans and was told that the Armagh Gaol and Market Place Theatre were among those featured.

The theatre director acknowledged the substantial costs involved and advised that consideration could be given to purchasing the lighting required, but this would also be a considerable amount.

Cllr Doyle felt the cost of lighting would be “a waste of money” while Cllr Wilson suggested bringing the matter back to the Equality and Good Relations Members Forum, which it was agreed to do.

Cllr Sylvia McRoberts (UUP) asked if it would be possible to carry out a survey of how many people came to Armagh from other areas for the St Patrick’s Day event, which she felt was “important to know”.

The theatre director pointed out that an evaluation was carried out each year from which this information could be taken.

Cllr McRoberts felt that, considering the amount of money which went towards the event every year, it would be good to know it was effective in bringing people to the city.

Cllr Doyle advised that she was happy to approve other aspects of the report, which have not been revealed at this time, but not the lighting costs.

On a separate note, Cllr McRoberts said she would like to see greater emphasis on cafés than bars in relation to music sessions.

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