Rose bosses slam Fáilte funding cut

Simon Brouder

Rose of Tralee boss Anthony O'Gara has slammed Fáilte Ireland after the tourism body again slashed funding for the world famous festival.

Last week it emerged that Fáilte Ireland is to provide only €15,000 in financial support to the Rose of Tralee festival this year.

The 2017 allocation is just half what the festival received in 2015 and 2016 and a fraction of the €107,000 allocation provided to the extended 'Gathering' year Rose festival in 2013.

Typically the state funding is put towards the cost of the Rose festival's costly street carnival.

Any shortfall will, most likely, have to be made up through donations from the already hard pressed local business community, who already fund the majority of the €100k plus festival entertainment programme.

Rose of Tralee Chief Executive Anthony O'Gara was highly critical of the cut in funding.

"Fáilte Ireland have, time and again, cut their funding for the Rose of Tralee. In 2016 they provided €30,000 for the street festival which would equate to about 10 per cent of the cost of funding the street entertainment. This year they have further cut the grant by 50 per cent. We will work very hard to minimise any impact that this may have on the level of street entertainment that will be on show at this year's event," said Mr O'Gara.

"Fáilte Ireland have always been treated with respect by the Festival which meticulously and professionally delivers on any agreed criteria on an annual basis. Despite this, the finding provided is always very much at the lowest end of the scale," said Mr O'Gara.

"For example the Galway Arts Festival, which is also held in high season and has a similar overall budget, receives almost 20 times the grant allocated to the Rose of Tralee."

"Many other much smaller festivals also receive higher funding than the Rose which is one of Ireland's leading festivals with a worldwide reach embracing 65 events organised by Irish communities and people of Irish heritage around the word," Mr O'Gara said.

"We believe that Fáilte Ireland should place more value on the Rose of Tralee as a driver of tourism throughout the year," said Mr O'Gara.

Kerry Fianna Fáil deputy John Brassil - whose Dáil question revealed the cut - called on Fáilte Ireland to reverse the cutback.

Deputy Brassil said the cut was a "kick in the teeth" to the volunteers and supporters who back the festival every year.

"A drop of this magnitude in funding will severely hamper the organising committee's ability to organise the festival this year," said Deputy Brassil.

"Despite a somewhat improving economy, it is still difficult to secure sponsorship, and with less than four months until the Festival kicks off, this is a major concern for the festival organisers," he said.

"The festival provides a major tourism bonanza for the whole of the county," said Deputy Brassil.

"The decision to cut funding is short sighted to be honest. €15,000 isn't a lot of money to Fáilte Ireland or the Department, but it's very important to this festival," said John Brassil.

"I'm calling on the Minister for Tourism to intervene in this matter, and reverse this cut. The return on investment to the local and national economic is well worth the extra €15,000," concluded Deputy Brassil.

Fáilte Ireland has said it is limited in the amount of funding that it can provide to the Rose of Tralee. A spokesperson for the tourism body explained that the €15,000 2017 allocation for the Rose of Tralee was decided based on a number of factors.

"The level of grant funding is based on the following considerations; the limited resources available to fund the National Festival and Participative Events Programme; the fact that the applications to the programme are evaluated on a competitive basis against the criteria set out in the guidelines; a corporate decision to concentrate funding on growing tourism demand outside the peak season; and an obligation on Fáilte Ireland to spread and grow tourism demand more evenly across the country," said Fáilte Ireland Communications Officer Mary Penny.

"Fáilte Ireland has been very supportive of The Rose of Tralee Festival over the years and has provided funding of €100,000 to the festival in the period 2014 to 2016," she added.


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