Naas Mayor defends financial assistance to Punchestown

A decision to allocate €11,000 towards the promotion of Punchestown Racecourse has been strongly defended.

A decision to allocate €11,000 towards the promotion of Punchestown Racecourse has been strongly defended.

Despite the reservations of two councillors – Rioghnagh Bracken and Darren Scully – Naas Town Council decided to provide financial assistance to promote April’s National Hunt Festival.

Naas Racecourse manager Tom Ryan told the Leader that if grants are available then Naas Racecourse would like to apply for some of this money. Mr. Ryan accepted that the five day National Hunt Festival is exceptional but said that apart from this both racecourses host meetings of “similar value.”

Naas Mayor Willie Callaghan said the decision was made with the sole aim of promoting the annual festival, which runs from April 24 to April 28.

“This money is not a grant and is being spent in a concerted initiative by Naas Town Council, Kildare Failte and Punchestown Racecourse. The five day meeting is one of the biggest events in the county, I feel Naas Town Council should have been involved a long time ago,” the Mayor told the Leader.

“Hopefully we will have 100,000 people here and if they spend only €10 each then that would be worth €1m to the Naas economy.”

Cllr. Callaghan said the council had been supportive of development work to upgrade the racecourse at Naas and will look favourably on any proposals the racecourse management have in the future.

He stressed the council helps all manner of groups in the community and some €84,000 had been allocated to local groups recently – including residents associations.

He further pointed out that 100 free tickets would be given away to the public as promotions – which means the net cost to the council of the assistance is €8,000.