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Call for probe on budget for world festival

A DUBLIN councillor has called for an investigation into the spend at the Festival of World Cultures after it was revealed council chiefs spent €400,000 more than was sanctioned.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council now have plans to scrap the popular festival and replace it with a series of much small events.

Cllr Victor Boyhan (Ind) said that the issue should not be to axe the cultural weekend but to look at why €400,000 was spent above and beyond the agreed budget.

"I want a local government auditor to come out and examine the figures," he told the Herald.

"Management just want to walk away from this long established festival -- this will jeopardise future sponsorship."

Mr Boyhan said that every year of the festival, there was a significant spend over the budget that had been cleared by councillors.

"The overspend was unsanctioned -- they didn't have the authority.

"Every occasion it was held, there was overspend," he said. "I want a full, complete and independent auditor."

And in 2010, there was close to €1m paid out for events in Dun Laoghaire.

A recent Festival Review Group outlined that changes must take place in order to finance the event and make sure that it is sustainable.

"This will involve taking a step back from holding the event in 2011 and taking the time to prepare a more robust and sustainable model for 2012 -- one that we can continue into the future," the spokesman said.

Mr Boyhan said the festival would never be the same again once its continuity was broken, but county manager Owen Keegan said it would be very difficult to come up with a sustainable model for the festival by next summer.

Planning for the scaled-down event will begin shortly.

It is expected that the festival will be replaced with smaller of public events, with a budget of €400,000, including a 10km road race, a model railway expo, and the Dublin Bay Taste and Music Festival.