Councillors claim ‘I Love Larne’ film is a PR ‘disaster’ for town

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The ‘I Love Larne’ documentary was an “unmitigated PR disaster” for Larne Borough Council, local elected members have claimed.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, UUP Cllr Mark McKinty said he was considering seeking an emergency meeting of Larne Council to discuss the issue: “The title of the show was a farce, as it showed very little of those who love Larne.

“This programme originally grew out of the FG Wilson job loss announcement. Since then there have been new jobs announced. Larne’s businesses do great work and are consistently winning awards.

“We have some of the most advanced technology companies in the country. We export around the globe. Council-funded LEDCOM supports new, existing and growing businesses.

“Where did all this positivity feature on the programme?”

Alliance Cllr John Mathews said he felt that Larne Council’s chief executive, Geraldine McGahey, had been the predominant figure in the programme.

Cllr Mathews added: “The show made it look as though Mrs McGahey was single-handedly responsible for the Gobbins project, when it has in fact involved a huge effort from councillors and members of the community.

“I thought the programme was hilarious; it reminded me of the sitcom Royale Family, which is not to everyone’s liking, but I love it.”

However, party colleague Gerardine Mulvenna did not see the funny side and said: “The programme left me speechless. I was cringing the whole time.”

Mid and East Antrim Council member, Rev Dr Paul Reid, felt the documentary made a “mockery” of Larne.

The DUP man added: “It was cringeworthy from start to finish and was not an accurate portrayal of the town or its people.”

Fellow Mid and East Antrim DUP Councillor Gordon Lyons said there was a clear sense of “anger, disappointment and frustration” at the way in which Larne had been portrayed.

“To me it appears that the programme was edited in a way that reinforces the negative reputation that the town has,” he claimed.

“The shots, the interviews and the music made the programme look more like satire rather than a documentary about what life is really like in the town.”

Cllr Drew Niblock spoke of his “disgust” at the “inaccurate representation” of Larne.

He added: “Shame on the BBC and on the director, Guy King for portraying Larne in such a bad light.

“This was not a true reflection of the town I know and love, and I am honoured to serve as an elected member here.”

Larne Cllr Gregg McKeen said the documentary was “a real PR disaster” and feared it could have a “damaging impact” on the town.

“Larne has come out of this in a very poor light,” he added.

“It made it look like Larne is the only place in Northern Ireland that has gone through difficult economic times.

“If councillors had been given a preview of this programme before it aired, I doubt it would have been broadcast in its current form,” he concluded.