PORTRUSH will play a part in this year’s World Police and Fire Games.
Northern Ireland will host the event from August 1 to August 10 this summer, when around 10,000 competitors from 70 different countries will compete in 57 sports.
Portrush is set to host three events - beach volleyball, surfing and surf kayaking, and the good news is that everything is free to spectators.
At Tuesday night’s Leisure and Environment meeting, members received a presentation from Alistair McGovern and Neill Donaldson on the economic benefits to the area.
Centring on the East Strand, the three events will use the beach, surrounding car park and the Watersports Centre.
Members in attendance were in support of the games which will bring an estimated £21.4 million to the Northern Ireland economy and enhance the image of Northern Ireland to competitors from across the globe.
DUP councillor Mark Fielding welcomed the event and said that he hoped locals would support the events given that they were free.
Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick proposed that members should support the organisers and allow the use of the East Strand area.
His proposal was seconded by councillor William King who described the event as “exciting.”
Councillor King said: “This will follow the Milk Cup, an event that is the peak of our events calendar, it can only be good for the area.”
DUP Alderman Maurice Bradley added: “It is good news that the Games is being spread across the Province. This will be a tremendous boost for Portrush and Coleraine Borough Council who have a reputation for delivering big events - not only will this be good for NI. PLC, but also Coleraine borough Council and the North Coast
“It is great coming on the back of the Olympics Games and just prior to the Commonwealth Games and as you alluded to, not only will people see the sports, but you kind offer of leaving some of the equipment behind for the use of local residents is another bonus, and I’m sure Council’s events team will be keen to get on board.
“Surfing is big in this area, we have the world famous Al Mennie, and in surf kayaking world champion Andy McClelland. No beach volleyball champions yet - but perhaps after the games have taken place that can change.”
DUP councillor Adrian McQuillan agreed with the previous speakers, but questioned the need for food trailers in the East Strand area. “The Irish Open promised so much, but didn’t bring the benefits for our traders, will this be the same.”
Responding the the councillor, Alistair McGovern said that the Games events would be “different.”
“Food NI is one of the sponsors of the event, there are members of Food NI in the Borough and they will be able to take a stall, alternatively people who are not members can join.
“This is very different from the Open, these people won’t stay in the same spot - those taking part are not elite athletes, they play hard and party hard and I have no doubt that the restaurants, bars and nightclubs of the area will be boosted.”