Belfast Telegraph

Ballintoy business owners 'losers' in Game Of Thrones

Complaints of lost trade after village is taken over by film crew

By Lesley-Anne Henry and Lesley Houston

Business owners in a Co Antrim holiday resort say they are relieved filming for TV epic Game Of Thrones has finished.

Actors, directors and crew descended on picturesque Ballintoy for four days and transformed the remote harbour into a fantasy set for the Emmy-nominated HBO series based on the bestselling A Song Of Ice And Fire books by George RR Martin.

Bosses for the fantasy epic made a £7,500 donation to improve village infrastructure and provided remuneration for some businesses and fishermen. But others say they have been left out of pocket.

Among those worst-affected was the Half Door gift shop on Harbour Road. Owner James White said a 'road closed' sign erected at the top of the road put customers off for the duration of the filming.

"It was a fantastic thing to come to the area," he said. "But they told us at the start that the road wouldn't be closed off until after the church, but the police made them put up the guts of 100 traffic cones as the police were worried about people coming down to see the filming.

"The film people were nice enough and someone came down to liaise with us and said they would get the sign moved, but it didn't make any difference. It did affect business and we are putting in a claim. Everyone saw the cones and drove off."

He added: "We are putting a claim in, as we were told to get our accountants to supply what we would have made the previous year.

"It was four days in August, which is a busy month, and we rely on a lot of tourists. We're not against the film company, though, and it'll probably be an amazing film," he stressed.

"The council gave them permission to use the harbour and the others got their compensation up front, so we are not complaining, but we are putting in our claim after they compensated people down at the harbour straight away."

By contrast, Fergal McShane who owns a holiday cottage right on the harbour said his guests "had a great time" during filming.

"We had people staying at the cottage and they were accommodated by the crew," he said. "They had access and had a great time.. you could argue that the timing wasn't great as it was in the middle of the summer, but we were fine. The people who stayed were from France and they are coming back again next year."

Meanwhile, Padraig McShane, chairman of Moyle District Council, said the £7,500 donation would generate £30,000 of investment through the Rural Development Fund and would go towards the development of a craft centre and public toilets in Ballintoy.

Councillor McShane said: "Of course the business people and fishermen were not happy about, it but I think they agreed it would be for the greater good of the whole village.

"The whole thing was very awkward while they were filming, but we think, in the long-term, it will benefit the whole village of Ballintoy."

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