Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Sinn Fein councillor attacks Red Arrows return to Northern Ireland

The Red Arrows take to the skies  during the "festival of flight" in Newcastle Co. Down
The Red Arrows take to the skies during the "festival of flight" in Newcastle Co. Down

Sinn Fein has criticised the return of the world famous Red Arrows air display team to Northern Ireland.

Down District Council has announced the Red Arrows will be one of the key attractions of its summer tourist programme.

When the aerial daredevils first appeared in Newcastle four years ago, it attracted a crowd of more than 100,000 to the Co Down coast.

But Sinn Fein has shot down the plans to throw out the red carpet to the display team as part of a Festival of Flight festival on August 10.

Down councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe said: “The Red Arrows are using Down District to get publicity for the British Army.

“Let them tell the story about what they are doing in Afghanistan. When they came to Down District the last time, we were told these RAF pilots were all just home from Afghanistan.

“They are not doing festivals of flight in Afghanistan. Let them tell people what they are really doing in the war in Afghanistan.”

Mr Mac Con Midhe claimed the return of the Arrows has yet to be discussed by the council and the first he was aware of it was a press announcement from the council.

However, Alliance councillor Patrick Clarke said it would be “silly” for Sinn Fein to oppose the return of the Red Arrows.

“The crowds which the Red Arrows attracted to Newcastle two years ago were phenomenal and the spectacular air displays were breathtaking and could be seen for miles along the coast,” he said.

“With the Red Arrows display, the Summer Festival of Flight will be another major success for Newcastle and Down District.

“It is becoming one of Northern Ireland’s major summer festivals.”

When they first flew to the district in 2010, the Arrows helped attract more than 100,000 visitors to Newcastle as part of the Harry Ferguson festival, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight in Ireland in the resort.

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