herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

€25k council grant to Leopardstwon 'should be given to local clubs'

Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown
Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown

An attempt will be made today to block a proposed council grant of €25,000 to Leopardstown Racecourse’s four-day Christmas Racing Festival.

Councillor Victor Boyhan said struggling local sports clubs should get preference for public funds instead of the racecourse.

He has argued that large crowds of punters attracted to the annual event spend millions at the course and claims it also enjoys large commercial sponsorship.

But the track’s boss Patrick Keogh has insisted that the funding is necessary to help attract tourists, giving a boost to several businesses in the area.

Members of Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown Council will meet today to decide who gets hundreds of thousands of euro in council grants.

Leopardstown Racecourse applied for a repeat €30,000 council grant for the Christmas Racing Festival this year and it has been proposed to give them €25,000.

“Enough is enough. Under no circumstances should they get this money. Even €5,000 would be too much,” said Cllr Boyhan.

“It would be far better to divide €25,000 among 25 local clubs who would find €1,000 would go a long way for each of them,” he said.

“Personally, I’m supportive of equestrian sports and visit Leopardstown and the Curragh racecourses regularly.

“I’ve no axe to grind. Leopardstown is a successful commercial entity and one of the finest racecourses in Ireland or Europe.”

He said council resources are limited and the people of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown were paying the highest local property taxes in the country.

In 2013, the council gave a grant of €50,000 for the racing festival and a further €30,000 to the racecourse last year, he said.

concert

Chief executive of the racecourse Mr Keogh said the council funds help make the last day of the festival special by attracting visitors to significantly increase economic activity in local hotels,

restaurants and shops.

A concert on the final night attracts increased numbers and the last day has grown from 6,000 patrons to more than 10,000 patrons.

The racecourse was investing €19m in re-development and “every penny counts”, he said.

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