Major funding blow for Milk Cup and NW200 as NITB Events Fund is cut

Northern Ireland's celebrate securing the Milk Cup Elite Section, after defeating Canada 1-0 in Friday night's final at this year's Milk Cup finals. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com
Northern Ireland's celebrate securing the Milk Cup Elite Section, after defeating Canada 1-0 in Friday night's final at this year's Milk Cup finals. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com
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Two major local sporting events are set to be impacted upon following news of a cut to funding for for sporting and cultural events in Northern Ireland.

In a statement last week, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) said it was scrapping the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) events fund.

The news will have a major affect on two of the borough’s major sporting events - The Dale Farm Milk Cup and the North West 200.

The department said the cuts were the result of a “very difficult financial” situation facing the Executive.

It said: “Given these circumstances, the NITB events fund open call for next year will now not go ahead.”

The department added that the decision would not affect “events with a letter of offer from NITB which extends into 2015/16.”

The announcement was made late on Friday afternoon and it is the latest indication of the massive cuts set to hit public services across Northern Ireland in the coming months.

According to NITB documents, the Tourism Events Fund has contributed to 76 events during the current financial year.

The total funding tops £2.4m. This funding is guaranteed this financial year – until next March – but it won’t be available next year.

It is understood long-term agreements for a number of key events including the 2015 and 2017 Irish Open, and the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush – which have already been signed off – are not affected.

NITB falls under the remit of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

In a statement its DUP minister Arlene Foster said: “We are facing a very difficult financial context across the Northern Ireland block and the Executive has not yet decided budgets for departments for 2015/16.

“Given these circumstances, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board Events Fund Open Call for next year will now not go ahead,” the minister added.

The Foyle Cup in Londonderry welcomed almost 80,000 people to the city this year for the football tournament and is another event which is set to be affected

Organisers though said they would be fighting all the way to safeguard the future of their event.

Michael Hutton, chairman of the Derry and District Youth Football Association, added: “They talk about the legacy of the City of Culture and then cut funding for successful events like ours.

“We will fight for the money, because our tournament is good for the city, good for the north west and good for building relationships.”

Major cultural events like the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and the Festival of Fools will also lose a significant amount of money.