Sinn Fein councillor Pearse McGeough has echoed calls for representatives from Irish Public Bodies to come before the Ardee Municipal District committee to try and find a solution to the ongoing issue of a fireworks display in Ardee, or more accurately the lack of one.
Last month, 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 provided 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.
Louth County Council Director of Services Joe McGuinness confirmed at last month’s Joint Policing Committee meeting in the town 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.”
McGeough wants answers as to why that is and called on Louth County Council to invite representatives from the body to Ardee to discuss the matter with local councillors.
“Councillor Markey suggested at the Joint Policing Committee meeting that Irish Public Bodies should make a presentation. I am calling on that presentation to be made here,” McGeough said at Thursday’s Ardee Municipal District meeting. “The community needs to take ownership of Halloween.”
The councillor referred to anti-social behaviour in the Mid-Louth area, making particular reference to Dromiskin where he described behaviour at Halloween as “disgraceful”. Officers from Ardee Garda Station were also out in force on the town on Tuesday evening, dealing with some minor issues throughout the night.
“We need to get insurance clarity,” McGeough continued. “Other places have community events, so why not Ardee? Why not Mid-Louth? Ownership has to be taken over by communities. Barriers should not be put in place.”
Markey agreed, making the point that the local body needs direction from the likes of IPB as to how they can go about providing an event such as a fireworks display.
“Evidence has shown community based events leads to less trouble and a better experience for all involved,” he said. “I wouldn’t like to think insurance is the reason to stop that happening.”
Former Ardee Town Council chairman Paudie McKenny is among those who have challenged the decision of the IPB to deny indemnity. “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 said last month, calling the reasoning “an old chestnut.”
“The event was policed. There was a great Garda presence,” he added.