Limavady Borough Council is to support the 2011 Milk Cup in Coleraine to the tune of £15,000, it was agreed this week.
At Tuesday’s Development Services meeting, Director Valerie Richmond told members representatives from the Northern Ireland Milk Cup had asked Council for continued financial support and to consider maintaining the same level of funding as in 2010 – £15,000.
“This has been allowed for in the current financial year. Council would also host a reception for the visiting teams,” said Ms Richmond.
Sinn Fein councillor Brenda Chivers said if Limavady was not going to directly benefit from the event “it’s a lot of money”.
Ms Richmond said a lot of people come into the town where matches take place and accommodation in the Limavady area was booked up well in advance. She said she had no doubt if the Limavady area had another hotel it would be booked up too.
DUP Colr. George Robinson said Colr Chivers’ comments were “ludicrous”.
“This is a major event in this area and it attracts people from all over the world. It’s money well spent and anything we can do for the Milk Cup we should do it,” he said.
SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan said the “blinkers should come off “ and members take a wider view. He said it was one of the best football tournaments in the world attracting the likes of David Beckham in the past and Limavady council should do what it could to make sure it wasn’t jeopardised.
Ms Richmond responded, saying: “I do think we get quite a bit of value for money out of it.”
However, Colr. Chivers stressed she had nothing against the Milk Cup. During her time as Limavady Borough mayor she attended a number of events, it was just that the event seemed to “focus more on Coleraine,” she said.
Councillors also voted to financially assist Limavady United who had requested support towards ground preparations for the Northern Ireland Milk Cup. Ms Richmond told members the club was hosting a number of evening matches and “there is a cost to them to ensure their facilities meet the expected standards of the teams participating in the competition”.
“Their request is for Council support financial or in kind,” said Ms Richmond and revealed she had been told the cost of the work would be roughly £1,300
Colr. Chivers said Council needed to be cautious and recalled a club in Dungiven looking for help to mark out the field and it was refused.
“Just be cautious,” she said.
Colr. Mullan said members should be aware of setting a precedent, and asked if anything could be done in terms of providing manual labour.
Ms Richmond explained Council had previously agreed not to carry out any maintenance work at non-Council pitches, except those at the Vale Centre, Greysteel. She said if council staff did work on other grounds there were insurance issues to consider and stressed the busy technical services workforce was “up their eyes” with work.
Colr. George Robinson proposed Council give £800 which prompted Colr. Michael Coyle to say: “If we do go down this road we are quite likely to get more requests similar to this.”
He said while the Milk Cup is very big and important, he reminded members there are other sports within their own realm which have very important events such as the GAA and motor sports.
Colr. Mullan said considering all the press coverage from the event, council needed to ensure “we look as best we can”.
Sinn Fein Colr. Cathal McLaughlin said he was “football mad” and attended the Milk Cup matches and was “fully supportive” of it but asked: “If we do this are we leaving ourselves open to everything?” He said perhaps the Club should be applying to the Milk Cup committee instead.
A vote was taken on George Robinson’s proposal to give Limavady United £800. It passed with support from the unionist bloc and the SDLP. The five Sinn Fein councillors present abstained.