Flags legislation hampers Council’s ability to promote Purple status

Published: 9 Feb 2014 17:000 comments

“MORE action is required” to promote Enniskillen’s Purple Flag status, says Fermanagh’s Tourism Development Officer, Eddie McGovern.

Enniskillen celebrating their 3rd year purple flag are from left, Charlette Wilson, manager VIC; Alex Baird, Chairman of Fermanagh District Council; Inspector Roy Robinson; Thomas O’Reilly, chair Destination Fermanagh Partnership; Joe Kelly, Enniskillen Business Partnership; Rosemary Barton, chair PCSP and Eddie McGovern, Tourism Officer.<<

For the third year in a row the County town has secured the award recognising its excellence in entertainment and hospitality at night.

Only four towns and cities in Northern Ireland have been awarded the coveted Purple Flag -- Enniskillen, Bangor, Derry and Newry.

But Council legislation on flags and emblems dictates that our County town is unable to fly its flag with pride.

Just as Blue Flag is the acknowledged indicator of a high quality, safe beach, Purple Flag is the indicator of where to go for a good night out.

“It is certainly something to be proud of,” says Mr McGovern, “But flying the flag means nothing on its own.

“This is still a relatively new project to Northern Ireland. So it will take time to settle in. Now that we have won it for the third year running, it is just starting to be recognised. That recognition is likely to increase now too since we now have the involvement of the Enniskillen Business Partnership (EBP).

“There are Purple Flag balloons and Purple Flag wigs too -- but I won’t be asking our councillors to wear purple wigs -- at least not until after the elections anyway!”

Enniskillen’s Purple Flag status was renewed in October last year but it was the first time that Newry secured the accolade.

“They have already put a purple ribbon around the whole town centre to celebrate,” says Mr McGovern, “They are really pushing it. I think more action is required to get the message out there and businesses in Enniskillen need to embrace this.”

In conjunction with Fermanagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) the Enniskillen Purple Flag Group launched a “Get Home Safe” initiative at the end of last month.

Celebrating its Purple Flag status renewal, ‘Enniskillen for a Better Night Out’ window stickers and beer mats are being distributed to businesses that operate as part of the town’s evening and night time economy.

“We are doing a lot of work on similar initiatives too to get the word out there that Enniskillen has a Purple Flag,” Mr McGovern explained.

Enniskillen Purple Flag Group’s core agencies and organisations include Fermanagh District Council, Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism, the PSNI, Department of Social Development and Fermanah Retail Licensed Trade.

Developed by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) the Purple Flag is designed as an objective assessment of five key elements of a town’s night time offer, between 5pm and 5am including well-being, physical attributes and how agencies work together.

According to Mr McGovern the application process has repeatedly provided the opportunity to look at the County town with “fresh eyes”.

“For our second renewal application two assessors came to the town on Halloween weekend and looked at every aspect of the town’s night time economy,” he explains, “They went into bars and pubs to talk to people and get a sense of what the town had to offer, they went out with the police and they went to look at our CCTV monitoring. It was a rigorous assessment.

“To achieve Purple Flag there is an acknowledgement that a town cannot be perfect but it needs to show that there are mechanisms in place and measures being taken to deal with things like anti-social behaviour.

“Getting the message out there on the Purple Flag is going to be a long drawn out process, but we have a number of projects in place to spread the word,” he adds.

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