THERE is a “significant shortfall” in funding for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Enniskillen, Sinn Fein councillor Barry Doherty has said.
The Erne West councillor told a meeting at Enniskillen Townhall that there has been “serious confusion” after organisers of the March 17 celebrations, Project St. Patrick, asked the Enniskillen Business Improvement District (BID) to help fund the event.
“There seems to have been a rather serious confusion around the role of BID, this is not a judgement on BID or the Project St. Patrick. There seems to be quite a significant shortfall in funding for the Enniskillen parade,” Councillor Doherty told the Regeneration and Community Committee meeting, explaining that he had been “briefed” earlier that day by Project St. Patrick. 
BID is an initiative where businesses are required by law to pay a levy to carry out investments and improvements in the town. 
“I am wondering if there anything at all that the Council could do in terms of getting together with the organisers… [to] let us know where the confusion has been. My understanding is that maybe there was legacy agreements that were to be looked after. There does seem to be a fairly significant shortfall,” he said.
Director of Community, Health and Leisure Robert Gibson said he had only been made aware of the issue a few days before the meeting. 
“To make up a shortfall in funding they [Project St. Patrick] approached BID in the hope that they would provide funding but BID in the interim have apparently offered and have allegedly, because I am not familiar with it, capped their support for any event at this time at a very small amount,” he said.
Mr. Gibson added that the Council “puts a significant piece of funding” into the event and explained that Project St. Patrick had also intended to approach local businesses “to get a certain amount of money.”
“I think the offer made by BID is probably a quarter of what they anticipated they would lift from the businesses  and their problem is that when they go to the businesses now they feel the business will say, Well we are funding you through BID, we are not going to fund you twice.
“So I think it’s really perhaps a discussion in a tripartite way to see if a resolution can be found. We will try and set that up between the Council, Project St. Patrick and BID as soon as possible,” Mr. Gibson told the meeting. 
St. Patrick’s Day parade and fun day will return to Enniskillen for the eighth year in a row on March 17 and will feature, as usual, floats, music and dancing performances.