Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

New Year celebrated in style everywhere... except Northern Ireland

Fireworks explode over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
Fireworks explode over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

As cities around the world saw the New Year in with a big bang, Northern Ireland celebrations went off with something of a whimper.

And the lack of civic celebrations to mark New Year’s Eve is to be raised at Stormont.

While revellers flooded into cities all over the world to mark the occasion, there were no firework displays or free public concerts here.

Neither Belfast nor Londonderry hosted a free public event to see in 2014.

SDLP Assembly Member Patsy McGlone said he would raise the matter with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to see what support could be given to councils for next year.

The only public sign that Belfast was welcoming the New Year was a 15-minute countdown light show illuminating the City Hall’s dome. Derry City Council hosted an afternoon thanksgiving ceremony at St Eugene’s Cathedral, which reflected the city’s successful year as City of Culture.

There were no advertised free public festivities organised by councils in Coleraine, Fermanagh, Cookstown, Craigavon, Ballymena or Downpatrick either.

As chair of the Assembly’s committee on enterprise, trade and investment, Mr McGlone said he was surprised at the lack of civic celebrations.

He added: “While I acknowledge that it’s expensive to pay employees to work at this time of year and these matters are down to individual councils and their ratepayers, I would have thought that both Belfast or Derry as our capital cities could have put something on for the public to celebrate this major annual event.”

The last time that Belfast City Council hosted a free public event for New Year’s Eve was 2008.

It was criticised for being too expensive and failed to be fully supported by the public.

 Last night a council spokeswoman said: “A combination of the current economic climate and lack of public demand led to the council decision — back in 2009 — not to host a civic event.”

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