Ex-Westlife star Kian Egan pocketed £26,800 for Armagh concert
Armagh Council has confirmed ex-Westlife singer Kian Egan was paid £26,800 for a concert last year - but stressed that it was incorrect to say the money came entirely from ratepayers.
The local authority issued the clarification after a national newspaper reported that the former pop star received more than a quarter-of-a-million pounds for the event.
Referring to an alleged £268,000 fee, The Times suggested that the Sligo man secured the biggest payout for the Northern Ireland gig when compared with 348 councils across the UK.
A spokeswoman for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council last night said his fee was £26,800.
"While it is correct that the council (which was Armagh City & District Council at the time) made the payment to the artist in question, it is incorrect to say that this entire amount was paid by local ratepayers," she said.
"In this instance, the artist's fee was paid by a variety of funding sources given the community-driven nature of the event, which included the council, as well as from income raised from the admission fee paid by all those attending."
One source of funding for the event was the Office of First and Deputy First Minister. The live concert took place on October 27 in the Shambles Yard in Armagh City, with tickets priced from £5.
Ulster Unionist councillor Sam Nicholson said the event went down well with thousands of people who attended.
"Kian Egan is a huge star in the pop world and it you want to attract big names like that then you need to make it worth their while," he said.
Local DUP councillor Freda Donnelly said she didn't realise the Halloween concert had cost so much. "That definitely cannot be justified as a one-off event but this was a year-long training project for young people organised by cross-community young people - and it was a great success for them as well as traders in the area," she said.
A spokeswoman for OFMDFM said: "OFMDFM funds 75% of the district councils' good relations programmes. This funding covers good relations activity delivered through local government on the objectives in the Executive's good relations strategy.
"Armagh Council's good relations programme for 2014/15 included the Halloween event. Any claims for payments under the programme are assessed against specific delivery criteria and conditions."
A Freedom of Information request revealed that UK local authorities spent more than three-quarters of a million pounds on booking celebrities to appear at events. Figures showed 348 councils spent £753,013 on acquiring the services of stars for events including concerts, competitions and lights switch-ons last year.