Charity castigates ‘Scrooge’ council over demand for £300 Christmas tent fee

Andrea McAleese, with a picture of her daughter Roma, who was knocked down and killed in 2009
Andrea McAleese, with a picture of her daughter Roma, who was knocked down and killed in 2009
Share this article

A “Scrooge” council has been labelled a “disgrace” after asking a charity to stump up £300 to use three marquees for its Christmas remembrance event.

Causeway Coast and Glens Council has come under fire after requesting the money to lend the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden, in Coleraine, the shelters.

It is understood the council provided the tents free of charge in previous years but Events Co in Dunloy have now stepped in to provide the shelter for the Christmas Tree of Remembrance event.

Andrea McAleese created the garden in memory of her daughter Roma, who was knocked down and killed in March 2009 aged just three-years-old.

She said she was “disgusted” by the council’s decision not to support the charity event.

“Where is the Christmas spirit of these Scrooges?” said Ms McAleese.

“The council wastes hundreds of thousands of pounds on other things, including The Open, but they can’t support something that is close to the community’s heart.

“It’s time the public are made aware what happens with this council as it’s all kept quiet. Enough is enough.

“What are we paying our rates for? We’re paying their wages and they’re not listening to the community. They are more interested in tourism than supporting people in their own community.”

DUP councillor Adrian McQuillan said it was a “disgrace” how the council has treated the charity.

“They help out every other year but this year they wanted £300,” he said.

“This is a PR disaster and to be honest it’s one shambles after another. No councillor would begrudge helping out a local charity.

“I have spoken to the director of leisure and the chief executive and hope to raise this issue at the next council meeting.”

Ms McAleese stressed she did not want the negativity to overshadow what should be a positive public event.

“Local businesses have donated items to us and gave up their time,” she said.

“The Tree of Remembrance is there for anyone to remember loved ones they’ve lost. We start with a blank tree and at the end it is decorated with hundreds of messages of support.”

The memorial garden cost £82,000 to open in 2015 after three years of fundraising.

It has won the Spirit of Northern Ireland award and the Prime Minister’s Point of Light award.

Causeway Coast and Glens Council did not respond to a request for comment.