THERE has been a mixed reaction to proposals that more money be pumped into Limerick’s festivals, with a city councillor calling for a probe into what profits are being made by the company that runs Riverfest.
Members of the Metropolitan District of Limerick City and County Council raised issues during a presentation by Council Arts Officer Sheila Deegan on the Riverfest, International Bands and St Patrick’s Day festivals.
The council contributed €30,000 to the International Bands and St Patrick’s festivals, and a further €30,000 to Riverfest.
The overall cost of Riverfest was €285,241 while the Bands and St Patrick’s festival events came in at €174,615.
For the €30,000 invested in the St Patrick’s festival, the city saw 60,000 visitors for the two parades which represented a cost of 50c per attendee to the local authority. The festival featured 100 local and international groups, 4,000 participants on the streets and employed 21 local artists and resulted in 959 bed nights.
Riverfest had attendances of 100,000 attended which worked out at 30c per attendee for the council’s contribution and generated €561,000 for the local economy.
Ms Deegan said the 2019 St Patrick’s festival will be on the theme of ‘One Giant Leap’ to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the moon and the leaps forward made by Limerick.
Plans for the next Riversfest include opera in the Sailor’s Home, plans to develop the food stalls and extend them into the Potato Market.
Limerick has also been designated a gateway by Failte Ireland in Wild Atlantic Region and the council will be ensuring festivals are part of gateway activity.
Ms Deegan said she was asking members to authorise the same amount of contributions from their funds again this year.
However, Cmhlr Seighin O’Ceaillaigh (SF) said he thought that the private companies who benefit from the festivals would be contributing.
“The Limerick Soviet Committee is scrambling for money to try to commemorate one of the most significant events to happen on this island. I would have thought that should be the theme – not some disputed moon landing”.
City west councillor, Eleanor Hogan (FG) said “I agree we should spread our investment and we should be thinking more broadly about commercial involvement”.
Cllr Michael Sheehan (FG) said that in 2016 just six local companies participated in Riverfest.
“In 99 per cent of cases, the money spent leaves Limerick. This year four Limerick companies we allowed to trade behind the Hunt Museum. They might as well have been in Knocknagoshel. No one knew they were there and they made no money.
“A pitch in 2016 cost €550, it now costs €3,000. We have forgotten about our local traders in a quest to let the company get rich quick. The people who have the contract are making the money and I’m not happy with that.
“There needs to be an enquiry into the operation of the company running Riverfest,” he declared.