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Councillors vote down proposal by Chief Executive to write off €1.3 million Fleadh debt

14 councillors voted against the proposal compared to nine in favour

Councillors vote down proposal by Chief Executive to write off €1.3 million Fleadh debt

Joan Martin, Chief Executive of Louth County Council put forward the proposal

Louth County Councillors have voted against a proposal to write off a €1.3 million debt from the Fleadh Ceoil, which Drogheda hosted in 2018 and 2019.

The proposal was brought forward by the Chief Executive of the Council, Joan Martin, during the monthly council meeting which was held online due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Ms Martin detailed how the Fleadh had brought over 700,000 visitors to Drogheda in 2019, as well as adding that other parts of Louth got boosts due to the Fleadh.

However, Martin also spoke about the significant cost of the Fleadh and that the council found it difficult to get information on cost from other councils who previously had hosted the festival.

The Chief Executive said that due to the fact that the sponsors were hard to find, and that many hospitality businesses were hit hard by the pandemic, she believed that the best course of action was for the Council to foot the €1.3 million bill, in annual payments of €100,000 for the next 15 years.

There was significant opposition from councillors on the proposal, with Councillor Maeve Yore saying that it would be a “huge cost” to Louth taxpayers and that Louth County Council (LCC) should advise any future councils of the cost of hosting the Fleadh.

Cllr Marianne Butler said that there were concerns around the proposal and questioned how the €100,000 a year would be financed over the next 15 years if the proposal had been accepted.

There was some support for the proposal, however, with Fianna Fáil Cllr John Sheridan saying that he was concerned that if the council didn’t take up the debt, that it could land at the feet of the volunteers who organised the Fleadh.

Due to six councillors being absent, the proposal was voted down by 14 votes against compared to nine in favour.

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