Council slammed for ‘missing the boat’ on Clipper festival

East Derry MLA Cathal Ó hOisín launched a scathing attack on Limavady Borough Council for what he has branded “corporate inertia”.

The Sinn Féin MLA said he was “outraged” Limavady Council “rejected his request last year to organise a festival at Magilligan Point and Benone Beach to link with the Greencastle-Moville Carnival celebrating the 2012 Clipper Fleet’s passage through Lough Foyle at Magilligan Point and on to the port of Derry”.

The MLA said: “Tourism development has been identified as one of the primary routes out of recession for East Derry. Since the Clipper Fleet left Southampton last summer at the start of the world’s longest race a total of 40,000 miles, I have been asking Limavady Borough Council to team up with Derry City Council and Donegal County Council to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to promote our tourism industry in East Derry on the global stage. They declined to do so.

“The Clippers left Derry last Saturday via Magilligan and sadly Limavady Borough Council quite literally missed the boat.This Council has squandered what really was a golden opportunity to promote the outstanding natural beauty of Magilligan and the surrounding areas, including Donegal, the Roe Valley and the Sperrins region, and to support and promote the local tourism product in the north west of our country.”

The East Derry assemblyman went on to say: “Derry City linked with Singapore, New York, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro on the Clipper race map as host harbours on each leg of the race.

“Limavady Borough Council failed miserably to promote this event.

“Moville and Greencastle delivered a programme of events showcasing the best of festivals and events Donegal has ever presented. Thousands of visitors attended the 2012 Clipper Festival and more than 250 spectator boats arrived to enjoy vantage points in Greencastle and Moville.

“The Festival included acts from Europe’s festival of Bob Dylan music, Ireland’s annual Beatles tribute music, and the Trad Fest on the Lough.

“Inishowen hosted a week-long festival throughout the towns and villages along Lough Foyle to celebrate the arrival of the Clipper yachts. Greencastle organised a week-long festival from June 30 to July 7 when the boats started the final leg of their race.

“Events and activities included traditional music sessions, fun fairs, street performers, dances, and food and craft markets.

“The events followed the amazing carnival along Derry’s quay throughout the week which has been widely reported in the media.”

Mr. O’hOisin claimed Limavady Borough Council and NI Enviromental Agency (NIEA) “arranged a last minute event at the Martello tower in Magilligan which was too little too late”.

“This turned out to be a total shambles with less than 30 people attending.

“What is Limavady Borough Council and NIEA doing to promote our local tourism industry? Absolutely nothing.”

He added; “The people of Limavady must ask if this Council is offering value for money and I am determined that we hold officials accountable to their job description in order if Limavady area is to move forward.