'Mary' committee critical of traders 'lack of support'
Following strongly worded criticism this week on the failure of local business people to contribute financially to the Mary from Dungloe Festival, traders are set to meet next week to put in place a new finance committee and appoint an incoming Festival Director.
Outgoing Director, Tricia Gallagher, and her committee for 2010, tendered their resignations at the annual general meeting last Monday night with the former citing her frustration at lack of support for the event locally.
"Those who benefit most from the festival don't support it," she insisted, claiming that 99% of the people who helped with the festival were not from Dungloe itself.
"They won't miss it until it's gone, then they'll be crying about it," Ms. Gallagher maintained.
Praising those traders who did make a contribution to the annual event, the outgoing Director revealed that some businesses donated over 2,000 euro to the festival but others gave nothing in the way of finance.
Eight traders were among the attendance of over twenty at this week's meeting which heard that the inclement weather had resulted in a loss of expected revenue on the opening weekend of last year's festival. Organisers were close to cancelling the final weekend as pledged local contributions had not been forthcoming.
During the A.G.M., Ms. Gallagher referred to incidents when some of the stewards had been threatened by local people for carrying out the instructions of the festival committee and the Gardai relating to street and road closures. She also cited personal abuse she had received from an unnamed former festival committee member who had, she alleged, twice attempted to sneak into a fundraising event and after being refused entry had shouted at her that she should could "shove the ten euro up her a..e."
Speaking after the meeting, the outgoing Director described it as "embarrassing" that 99% of those who had helped with the festival came from outside Dungloe.
She said there was no other option but to resign because of the lack of support.
Highlighting the "huge potential" of the festival, sher maintained it brought money and jobs to the town but a shortsighted attitude existed among some locals with regard to the running and the funding of the event. "I find it very sad for the town," she indicated.
This week's annual meeting heard that it cost over €81,900 to host the festival in 2010, some €63,000 less than 2009. The income for last year was €79,990, down nearly €64,000 on the previous year. Contributions from traders dropped by over €3,600, with contributions ranging from €2,500 to €50. The festival currently has debts of over €23,800, some dating back to before 2008.
Singer Daniel O'Donnell is listed as being owed €9,000 pre 2008, while unnamed traders are owed over €2,500 for 1996. Funding and sponsorship was also down €4,789 on 2009.
The concerns of the Director were echoed at the meeting with one individual claiming that some of the contributions were less than what might be given as a wedding present.
"When we are calling to collect the subscriptions there is an attitude that we are begging for money. Some businesses that are making little from the festival contribute greatly but some making a fortune are giving little or nothing. It traders don't want the festival then wind it up," remarked one committee member.
Sean Bonner from the finance committee paid tribute to Tricia Gallagher and her team for their work in the last three years and this was echoed from the floor. The committee spoke of what they described as "the attitude" towards them when collecting subscriptions and questioned if the town really wants the festival.
Ms. Gallagher pointed out that for the first time in forty-three years of the festival, they had to make do without the facilities of the Ostan na Rosann which had proved a "major disadvantage."
Acknowledging all those who had backed the event and lent their support, she maintained that some businesses which did not benefit from the festival itself had nevertheless contributed financially to the staging of it.
The future direction of the Mary from Dungloe Festival is expected to be decided at a special meeting which has been called by traders for Monday night next in Ionan Teampall Croine (8.p.m.). It's anticipated that a finance committee will be appointed along with a new Festival Director.