Anger as Derry's Foyle Cup tourism funding application rejected for second year

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Derry City and Strabane District Councillors are set to contact Tourism NI about what they described as its “questionable” decision to deny funding for the Foyle Cup for the second year running.

Earlier this month, Tourism NI turned down the £30,000 funding application for the youth football tournament, which will see over 700 clubs compete across the North West this July, as it did not achieve the necessary ranking.

At a Business and Culture Committee meeting on Tuesday, Independent Councillor Shauna Cusack proposed writing to both Tourism NI and the Department for the Economy (DfE) for clarification on why funding was denied.

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Councillor Cusack said the “whole remit” of the funding was for “applications that would expand the tourism strategy for the area” and the Foyle Cup brings between £6 million and £8 million into the local economy.

Some of the attendance at the official opening of the 2023 Foyle Cup, in Guildhall Square last year.  Photo: George Sweeney. DER2329GS - 18Some of the attendance at the official opening of the 2023 Foyle Cup, in Guildhall Square last year.  Photo: George Sweeney. DER2329GS - 18
Some of the attendance at the official opening of the 2023 Foyle Cup, in Guildhall Square last year. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2329GS - 18

“There are 730 teams competing, around 150 of which are girls’ teams,” councillor Cusack added. “There are 13,000 players, over 200,000 spectators and 14,000 bed nights, so that’s just a snapshot of what it was going to deliver tourism-wise to the city and district.

“That’s not mentioning how it’s going to showcase the city, how local businesses are going to benefit, how employment opportunities will be created, as well as getting young people involved in sport.

“How they didn’t meet those objectives is very, very questionable. This event fills our city with life and vibrancy so why did this not fulfill these objectives? It doesn’t make sense.”

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UUP Alderman Derek Hussey said the Foyle Cup brings “so much to the city”, hosts matches in rural areas like the Derg, and was one of the top events in the hospitality sector calendar for bed night fulfilments.

The Foyle Cup annual parade.The Foyle Cup annual parade.
The Foyle Cup annual parade.

“To not have that recognised by Tourism NI is an absolute disgrace,” Alderman Hussey added. “And I can’t fathom why they’ve come to their decision.

“The number of visitors who come along from Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the British Isles has to be considered too, so if tourism is about bringing in outsiders to the area the Foyle Cup does that.”

SDLP councillor Rory Farrell said the Foyle Cup was a “key sporting event” that brings young people from all over the world to Derry.

“We have teams from America that come to Derry for this event,” Councillor Farrell concluded. “And it makes such a positive contribution to the local economy.”

“Tourism NI should recognise the benefits this brings and they should pony up.”

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter

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