Derry City Council shelled out more than £55,000 of ratepayers’ money towards the high profile event to mark the opening of Derry’s Peace Bridge, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
The Council bill - details of which have just emerged - comes on top of the whopping £263,410 forked out by urban regeneration company, Ilex, for last summer’s gala ceremony.
The local authority disclosed this week that, in total, it spent £55,104.85 on the event - £25,049.35 on Council services and an additional £30,055.50 on health and safety related costs.
The expenditure incurred by Council included just under £8,000 on costs for staff who worked additional hours, almost £10,000 on “CCTV system and operatives”, £6,000 on “radios” and nearly £2,600 for the hire of public toilets.
Council also spent nearly £6,500 on what it describes as “repair works, grass and tree treatment, bin delivery and collection and cleaning” and a further £2,000 on painting the Peace Bridge, the railings of the Foyle Embankment and hoardings at the Guildhall.
A local Sinn Fein councillor says she wants to know how the money was approved.
Maeve McLaughlin said: “It has to be remembered that this is public money and it should be spent very, very judiciously. I want to know if this matter came before the appropriate committees at Council for approval.
“At the next audit committee meeting of Council, we will be seeking very clear explanations as to how this money was approved and requesting that procedures are put in place to ensure such a state of affairs doesn’t occur again.”
Council, meanwhile, says it has “developed alternative funding arrangements with Ilex in lieu of costs incurred on the Peace Bridge opening event”.
For its part, Ilex says it “works in partnership with Derry City Council and shares costs for a range of events and programmes for the mutual benefit and regeneration of the city.”
“The Peace Bridge weekend was one such event,” said an Ilex spokesperson. “Going forward, Ilex will continue to support Council in the delivery of events such as Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and St Patrick’s Day.”