Ulster Unionist Culture, Arts and Leisure Spokesman, Michael McGimpsey, has described the situation whereby a venue is yet to be confirmed for the opening ceremony of the World Police and Fire Games as ‘deeply disturbing’.
The South Belfast MLA commented:
‘’The World Police and Fire Games will take place from 1st – 10th August and as yet no venue for the opening ceremony has been confirmed. That is deeply disturbing given there is less than 6 months left to finalise arrangements. There is no excuse for this failure as we have been aware since as far back as 2007 that the Games would be hosted here. I am also surprised that this issue was not brought to the attention of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee sooner.
Unfortunately, this follows on from the concerns previously expressed about the adequacy of accommodation to support the 23,000 visitors from around 70 different countries who are expected in Northern Ireland for the Games on top of the City of Culture visitors and the normal tourism business. This is a problem which remains unresolved. The Minister Caral Ni Cuillin’s failure to take ownership has the potential to seriously damage Northern Ireland’s reputation as a host for international events.
The World Police and Fire Games can undoubtedly be a huge success for our economy and the profile of Northern Ireland internationally. However, the Culture, Arts and Leisure Department must take this issue by the scruff of the neck. The competence of the Minister is now seriously in question.”