There were fireworks at the Ardee Local Policing Forum meeting on Thursday, but not the kind many local representatives and constituents would like to see as Louth County Council officials were challenged on the reasons why there has been no Halloween fireworks display in the town for the last two years.
Earlier this week, ThisIsArdee.ie brought you the news that there would be no fireworks display in Ardee for the third time in four years. The local authority say that is due to a failure to obtain insurance cover by from the Irish Public Bodies, who provid such insurance to the public sector.
Fireworks displays in Ardee began in 2010 and ran for four straight years. There was no event in 2014 before a return in 2015. However, with usual host Ardee St Marys unable to host the display last year, a plan was made to switch the venue to Ardee Rugby Club. But it was then the insurance issue reared it’s head.
With no solution having been reached throughout 2017, the prospect of a fireworks display this year was never on the cards. However, the matter was raised at Thursday’s meeting in front of members of An Garda Siochana and Louth County Council.
The question was asked by former chairman of Ardee Town Council Paudie McKenny. He asked why there had been no display for the last two years.
“There was absolutely no trouble in the town, or at least it was very minimal,” he said. “It doesn’t cost a lot and confines it to an organised event. It was of great benefit to the town. Halloween needs to be managed. Young people need to be protected.”
McKenny questioned why for years previously insurance was secured from Irish Public Bodies, but that is no longer available.
Louth County Council Director of Services Joe McGuinness confirmed that the IPB had indeed said they would not provide indemnity. “Our insurer won’t insure a fireworks event. IPB have refused to insure this event,” he outlined at the meeting. “It’s unfortunate. I’m assuming their decision is based on a risk management assessment.”
McKenny believed that the local authority had been fobbed off. “We had full insurance from IPB,” he said. “The Marys were indemnified by them. It was no extra cost to Louth County Council and the Gardai. Everybody was happy.
“I would love to challenge IPB on that. How come in Dublin they can have it? In Carrickmacross – just down the road – they can have it? I think somebody has been given the brush off. Insurance is an ideal excuse to do nothing,” McKenny added, calling it “an old chestnut.”
“That event was policed. There was a great Garda presence,” he added, saying that Order of Malta and stewards from Ardee St Marys were also in attendance. The former Town Council representative also claimed that in organising last year’s St Patrick’s Day parade, he was told the IPB would not cover the indemnity. He said that after further investigation, he discovered the IPB would indeed cover it for a nominal cost.
During a 90 minute meeting, more time was given to the fireworks discussion than any other. Fine Gael councillor Dolores Minogue said, “There is an outcry from the public that this is not happening. For something that has done extremely well, I’m very disappointed in this decision,” while Louth County Council cathaoirleach Colm Markey added “It’s a shame to have lost it.”
He suggested that a representative from Irish Public Bodies he invited to a meeting of the Ardee Municipal District meeting to discuss the matter further.
Whilst their was no resolution as such to the issue, those hoping for a return of the fireworks display were given support by Garda Chief Superintendent for Louth Christy Mangan who felt it was well worth looking into further.
“I think we should do a little more inquiry into it,” he told the meeting. “If it’s a runner, we’ll do it. Fireworks are a great concept. If it was organised, we’d certainly support it. Absolutely. It keeps everybody safe.”
The event was free to attend for all and was annually funded by Louth County Council through the former Ardee Town Council with assistance from the Ardee Traders & Business Association.