INTERNATIONAL pop star Ronan Keating and X Factor contestant Janet Devlin will bring some star quality to the borough this summer when the Dalriada Festival returns to Glenarm.
The cultural and heritage event, which combines sport, music and fine food from Ireland and Scotland, will be held in the village in July for the second consecutive year.
Despite a deluge, last year’s event attracted about 10,000 visitors to the area over the course of a weekend, and the organisers want to build on that platform by extending the 2012 festival to eight days from Friday, July 13 to Saturday, July 21.
Antrim Estates Company will provide funding for the festival to the tune of £100,000, and Larne Council has again agreed to contribute £25,000.
Elected representatives agreed to the funding package at the latest meeting of the development committee in Smiley Buildings.
Alliance councillor Gerardine Mulvenna described the 2012 festival as “a fantastic opportunity for the borough that will no doubt provide local people with jobs”.
However, her fellow Coast Road representative, DUP councillor Winston Fulton, did not share the enthusiasm and felt the money would be better spent elsewhere.
He told members: “I do not think that money is being shared out equally around the borough.
“Millions of pounds is being spent in places like Islandmagee and Seacourt, yet places like Craigyhill and Antiville are not getting their fair share.”
Chief executive Geraldine McGahey reminded Cllr Fulton that the council had spent over £350,000 on projects in the Craigyhill and Antiville areas in recent years, such at the Linn Glen and the multi-use games area.
She added: “We spend money to improve an existing asset or develop one that will bring in money, or on events that will draw people into the borough and help local businesses.
“The Dalriada Festival has a clear financial benefit to businesses in Glenarm, and if we can’t support events like this then we are failing the people of that village.”
Cllr Fulton also claimed that a number of Glenarm residents had been left disappointed by the level of local employment at last year’s festival.
“I have been told by residents that jobs were not advertised for last year’s event.
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“Many young people were unable to get jobs at the festival as a result,” he added.
Mrs McGahey told the member that 70 young people had been employed at the 2011 event, and added that the council would make it a condition that funding will only be granted if jobs are advertised for this year’s festival.
Alderman Roy Beggs concluded: “Our contribution to the festival is a fraction of the overall expenditure and will bring us a huge return.”