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‘County Council betrayed us’

Wednesday, 26th June, 2019 5:07pm

Businesses in Youghal feel they were “betrayed” by Cork County Council during Ireland’s first ever Ironman event.

That’s according to local business owner Miceál O’Hurley who feels that, although the competition was run very well, the council’s decision to allow food vendors from outside of Youghal to position themselves at the site of the event undermined local businesses.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Mr O’Hurley, who runs the award-winning Fantastic Flavours Ice Cream Parlour in Youghal with his wife Oksana, said: “The problem we traders have in Youghal is that the County Council betrayed us. For the last year, we've gone to meeting after meeting where they've promised that this would benefit local businesses and help spotlight Youghal.”

This year’s Ironman event was the first to take place in Ireland and was expected to bring upwards of €8 million revenue to the local area.

The event saw 2,670 athletes from 62 different countries flock to East Cork to compete in the popular swimming, cycling and running event.

Mr O’Hurley continued: “When push came to shove, County Council, to get fees from vendors, brought in food vendors from all over Ireland.

“Then you have people popping up doing illegal casual trading without a permit, and the council refuses to enforce the prohibition, which hurts businesses who play by the rules.

“I was shocked at one local councillor who told me, ‘why don't you just break the rules like everyone else’.”

Another local business owner who was less than impressed by the council’s handling of the event was Judy Ansbro who runs The Coffee Pot.

“We were told that the outside traders were only going to be in town for one day, whereas they put them in the town for three days,” she said.

“I had extra staff on. I had extra stock in. I had to send staff home on the Friday. The food markets ended up at the opposite end of the town from where we were told they were going,” Ms Ansbro added.

The Ironman event is set to take place in Youghal for the next two years and Ms Ansbro hopes that the Council will learn from its mistakes.

“I would hope that the person who is in charge of organising the food markets will actually come to some of the public meeting.

“They will have to come and listen to us. But for everybody involved, this was a learning curve,” concluded Ms Ansbro.

In a statement given to the Cork Independent, Cork County Council said that it held a number of meetings with Youghal Chamber of Commerce and Youghal Business Alliance the about Ironman event.

“At the initial meetings they agreed with our suggestion that there was a need to add to the number of food offerings in Youghal. As in 2019, any decision on food markets in 2020 will be a joint decision with the Chamber and Business Alliance,” the statement read.

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