independent

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Town Clerk in firing line over Festival

david medcalf

Published 09/07/2013|05:34

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Town Clerk David Minogue

Recently appointed town clerk David Minogue has fallen out with elected councillors over the management of the recent Strawberry Festival. In an extraordinary outburst, Cllr. Keith Doyle has lashed out at the town clerk's failure to tell the elected representatives in advance that McFadden's fun fair would be located in the Showgrounds.

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Recently appointed town clerk David Minogue has fallen out with elected councillors over the management of the recent Strawberry Festival. In an extraordinary outburst, Cllr. Keith Doyle has lashed out at the town clerk's failure to tell the elected representatives in advance that McFadden's fun fair would be located in the Showgrounds.

More controversially, the Fianna Fáil man was also angry that he received no prior warning about the controversial ticket system which led to poor turnouts at two of the three festival concerts on the Promenade during the fair.

'The town clerk could easily have told us those two significant things. It's a big bone of contention,' said Cllr. Doyle, frustrated that the message went out that people would be turned away if they did not have a ticket. 'People from the country decided that they would not come into town for the weekend. If there is free music, then it should be open to as many people as possible.'

He complained that the public representatives, and not David Minogue - who sits on the festival committee - were on the front line when it came to fielding the many complaints generated and it was not a comfortable experience: 'We got it in the neck. Why were we not adequately informed?'

He felt this was not the first time that the town clerk was not forthcoming with briefings he felt that the members should have: 'This one has caused major problems. I was put in the firing line without adequate information.'

David Minogue revealed that the tickets were distributed at the request of the Gardaí who wanted to regulate the numbers attending concerts. A limit of 2,500 spectators was put on the venue under the health and safety plan drawn up beforehand, he added.

'We had a very safe and very successful weekend,' he insisted. 'If Keith Doyle has a concern, then he should have the courtesy to go straight to me rather than going to the newspaper or the radio.

However, Cllr Seán Óg Doyle was also of the view that the ticketing scheme caused consternation: 'People were on to me beforehand to say that it would not work. There will have to be a re-think.'

He also stated that putting the fair's main musical venue on the Promenade came at a price of €6,000.

'It is far more costly to manage than in the Market Square,' reckoned the man from Esmonde Road who said many people had told him they would prefer to have the music back in the square. 'I would personally prefer it in the square but of course you have to close the roads.'

On the other hand, Sinn Féin councillor Johnny Mythen has hailed the Festival as a great improvement on the 2012 event. He acknowledged that teething problems came with the move to the Promenade as the principal music venue. However, he reckoned that the positives outweighed the negatives by at least ten to one. He pointed out that 400 tickets were sold for the official opening ball and that the All-Ireland farmers' market championship was another success story.

Gorey Guardian

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