"No more cruelty festival funding": appeal to Failte Ireland
06 July 2005
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has called on Failte Ireland to give a commitment that no further funding will be given to summer festivals which promote blood sports.
Despite maintaining that they do not promote these cruel activities, Failte Ireland last year gave a massive grant to Clonmel Country Festival which showcased foxhunting, hare coursing and lurcher and terrier work. And ICABS has recently learned that the €12,000 grant - given to Countryside Alliance, a blood sports lobby group - was made despite the reservations of Failte Ireland’s Head of Regional Development.
ICABS first became aware of Failte’s involvement after their logo was spotted on the back of advertising literature circulated by Countryside Alliance. We called on the tourism body to avoid using taxpayers’ money to help fund this animal cruelty promotion but our pleas fell on deaf ears.
Later, under the Freedom of Information Act, we discovered that Failte’s Head of Regional Development, Donal Guilfoyle, stated in an email to another Failte staffer: "I expect that we do not grant aid this event. Would you please consult with S.E. [South East] Tourism to ensure that they are not grant aiding it." Other documents reveal that Failte, having decided after all to proceed with grant aiding the event, tried to hide their association with it. "I have told the Countryside Alliance that if they were producing any further literature that they should not publish the Failte Ireland logo," one official wrote to another.
Despite numerous complaints from members of the public, Failte continued on with their plans to grant aid Countryside Alliance’s event, while attempting to cover up the fact that blood sports were going to be promoted. In another email message, a Failte official wrote: "The organisers have produced a flyer - 20,000 copies are in circulation, which carries the [Failte Ireland] logo. Coursing and hunting are listed as festival activities – it’s no surprise there is such a negative reaction from people who have seen this. SERTA (South Eastern Region Tourism) have since asked them to drop all reference to these activities - I think we should ask them to destroy any remaining copies from the first print run."
So, while Failte Ireland saw fit in the end to give €12,000 to the Countryside Alliance, they were extremely reluctant to be associated with the event and wanted their logo dropped from advertising literature in breach of their own rules for grant aid. In order to comply with the grant aid criteria under the Festival and Cultural Events Initiative, it is expressly stated that Failte’s logo must appear on all advertising material. Another condition for grant aid is that the event must have either been involved in overseas marketing in the past or, in the case of new events, have plans for overseas marketing.
ICABS hopes that Failte Ireland will, in the future, refuse any application for funding for festivals which promote blood sports.