Council ‘scored own goal’ with fireworks cancellation

THE Council has been accused of scoring “an own goal” in cancelling the Halloween fireworks display.
Furious uproar was expressed when the Council put the fuse out on the planned £40,000 fireworks display with many people taking to social media to express their disgust that the event was abruptly cancelled.
The decision, which had been taken by the Chief Executive of the Council, Alison McCullagh, made headlines nationally with BBC NI reporting it as the second story to the UK getting a new Prime Minister with Spanish TV also reporting on the decision to cancel the fireworks.
Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh expressed his disappointment with the way in which the decision was taken and is looking for answers as to why the Council felt the saving of the firework money needed to be made.
He said: “This was an own goal from the Council.
“This was the one time that the Council could have staged an event that would have given people an evening out despite the huge pressures that are on all households at the moment.
“I was excluded from a meeting when this was considered because I am a member and a worker for a trade union, despite my protestations as I was wanting to stay at that meeting.
“At that meeting a paper was brought forward which included a proposal for £580,000 worth of operational programme savings throughout the year – these were not detailed.
“Following the meeting, I wrote to request some form of explanation as to where those savings would be made.
“I haven’t been provided with that but I was told that this would be made clear at a (separate) meeting for November 9.
“I understand that the meeting agreed to give the Chief Executive powers to take these decisions which was the basis on which this decision was made – although I don’t think anyone thought that this would translate into a decision so quickly in regard to the fireworks display.
“No Councillor voted for the fireworks event to be cancelled. There was no vote on this issue held. There was a generalised agreement for £580,000 worth of savings but, there were no decisions taken on the back of that.
“The Council should be able to give something to the community but unfortunately, that was taken away from them. This decision was made and announced to the media before the Councillors themselves heard of it.
“I understand people around the county organised their own fireworks entertainment last weekend – which would have been difficult given the current climate of the cost of living crisis.”
The Council was asked by Fermanagh Herald as to where the £40,000 that had been earmarked for the fireworks event would be allocated to.
A spokeswoman replied: “The Council is currently reviewing all its budgets in light of immediate financial pressures including additional unbudgeted costs and the cost of living crisis.
“The £40,000 for the Halloween fireworks events will be reallocated towards additional, unbudgeted costs within the revised budget.”
The day after the announcement, the Fermanagh Herald also attempted to contact Alison McCullagh for an interview where we had hoped to ask her why the event was cancelled and what the process was in coming to her final decision.
However, we received an automated email reply saying that she was on annual leave.
Meanwhile, Cllr Sheamus Greene admits that he understands why the decision was made and hoped that the Christmas Lights would go ahead as it would not be in the Council’s interests to axe that event.
He said: “I wouldn’t have been one in favour of cutting the event but I do understand the decision that was made. It possibly wasn’t done in the best possible way it should have been done.
“As for the Christmas Lights, I sincerely hope they will be going ahead but it’s something that we will be discussing. My view would be that they should go ahead.
“There is £200,000 allocated for the Christmas lights but I don’t think the Council should be acting as Scrooge and cancelling Christmas.”

To read more.. Subscribe to current edition

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA