Belfast Telegraph

Cuts hit Belfast City Council's plans to host raft of prestige events

By Rebecca Black

An ambitious Belfast City Council wish list of prestigious events may be scuppered due to budget cuts, it has emerged.

The council's development committee has been told that there is no money left to bid and pay for any more major events.

In recent years Belfast has made its mark on the international stage, including several firsts - hosting the Tall Ships in 2009, MTV European Music Awards in 2011, the World Police and Fire Games in 2013 and the Giro d'Italia this year.

Although it costs a significant amount to host such events, they are believed to generate even more money for the economy. For example, the Tall Ships in 2009 was estimated to have brought in £16m and the MTV awards in 2011 was watched by 1.2 billion people across the globe, generating 669 million media opportunities.

The Tall Ships are set to return next year, and the All-Ireland Irish Dancing Championships in November 2016.

However, there are currently no other significant bids under way for major national and international projects for the next seven years to 2021.

The council has identified a long wish list of events including the UK National Piping Championships next year, the National Triathlon Series event in 2017, World Irish Dancing in 2018, the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in 2020 and the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021.

The total cost to the council of putting these events on would be £2.6m.

But a City Hall official told the committee that after the Tall Ships next year, the city only has one national event programmed - the All Ireland Irish Dancing Championships in November 2016.

The official said there were no other significant bids under way for major national and international projects up to 2021, and added the council did not have the funds to pursue such bids.

"There is currently no budget available to finance the projected £2.66m contribution," the official told the committee.

It is understood that much of the funding that may have paid for these events has been ring-fenced to finance local government reform.

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