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Show's over as Big Screen set to go under the hammer

By John Mulgrew

Belfast's Big Screen is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder later this month.

Someone could snap up a bargain because there is no reserve price for the item, which will go under the hammer at Wilsons Auctions in Mallusk.

The screen still sits in the grounds of Belfast City Hall, but has been turned off.

Launched with a blaze of publicity in 2011 amid claims it would help bring people from a divided city together to watch sporting events, the Big Screen failed to attract the crowds expected.

It is understood that councillors took a decision to sell it because of financial reasons, with the screen needing a upgrade that would have cost £120,000.

A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: "The Big Screen at Belfast City Hall will go to auction on Thursday, February 23, with its sale being handled by Wilson Auctions in Mallusk.

"This arrangement has arisen as the Big Screen has reached the end of its operational life.

"Details of this situation were reported to council in October 2016, with a decision taken to look at options of disposal; hence the auction on February 23."

At the end of last year, Carl Frampton's homecoming event at City Hall was broadcast on the screen. But while the widely publicised reception for the boxer was expected to attract 6,000-plus well-wishers, just a fraction of that number showed up.

The screen was launched in advance of the London Olympics in 2012, and was to be a focal point for people to come together from across the city to enjoy sporting and cultural events.

It was also to be used to highlight important council campaigns and let visitors know about the latest things happening across the city.

The Big Screen was due to be moved from its current location in May 2019.

It is understood its operational equipment needed updating, requiring a new air conditioning system and high-speed broadband with an estimated cost of £120,000.

The screen is one of dozens of items up for grabs in the Government sale at Wilsons.

Other items going under the hammer include everything from luxury watches, such as Audemars Piguet and Rolex, to a range of gold jewellery.

There is also a selection of high-end sports cars.

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