Galway City Council is set to invest almost €8,000 in its bid to become the next Irish city to recieve the Purple Flag, an initiative which according to city manager Brendan McGrath offers the city “an unique opportunity to make a further statement, that it is a safe and vibrant place for people to do business in the evening and to enjoy”.
At a meeting this week councillors agreed to proceed with the Purple Flag scheme following a presentation from Carmel Cronin of ATCM (Association of Town Centre Management ). The Purple Flag, which is only three years old with 45 UK/Ireland destinations involved, acts as a benchmark of good evening and night-time destinations. Town centres that achieve a Purple Flag will be those that are safe, vibrant, appealing, well-managed, and offer a positive experience to consumers.
Ms Cronin confirme that the Purple Flag Ireland Academy has recently been launched. It will work with multiple towns and cities across Ireland to guide them in developing their own Purple Flag applications. The academy will start this May and run until November followed by an awards ceremony. “The city manager has confirmed that Galway is strongly considering taking part,” said Ms Cronin, who added that a workshop for all stakeholders will take place on March 6.
The Purple Flag application process involves getting various stakeholders such as taxi drivers, gardai, nightclub owners, chambers of commerce, business associations, takeaways, and other operators between the hours of 5pm and 5am to get together and form a picture of the strength and weaknesses of nightlife in Galway. Currently more than 40 town and cities in UK/Northern Ireland have Purple Flag accreditation. In Ireland, Dublin and Ennis recieved the Purple Flag last year, while Killarney and Bray are currently applying. At a conference held in Ennis last year there was interest from 15 towns and cities in Ireland.
Ms Cronin assured councillors that the Purple Flag brings “considerable economic value” and during the process there is a huge opportunity to make significant positive changes as well as better communication and stronger relationships between various stakeholders.
Raising the issue of safety on the Galway streets at night Cllr Nuala Nolan noted there areas with very poor lighting, other areas with no CCTV, and inadequate queuing systems for taxis and fast food often results in fighting and other anti-social behaviour. Cllr Donal Lyons noted that as the council “does not have a presence after 9pm on the streets we are reliant on other stakeholders coming on board”.
Cllr Niall McNelis welcomed the presentation adding that he had informed the stakeholders he thought would jump on board to support, saying “members of the business community and resident and community groups are here to listen to the presentation. I look forward to assisting with the workshop and I hope that all the city including the Latin Quarter, the West End, and Woodquay, all the city centre, and Salthill will be part of this bid.” Cllr Colette Connolly called for any Purple Flag preparations to include working with, and prioritising, residents’ associations adding “at the end of the day it’s about communities feeling safe”.
Ms Cronin replied that Purple Flag wants towns and cities to consider issues such as lighting and CCTV. She added that the deadline for participation in the Purple Flag Academy is April 10 and that it would cost €7,800 per location which will cover the Kickstart workshop, all individual support, application free, participation in the awards, as well as marketing and promotion.
Fully recommending the initiative, Mr McGrath added: “It is a process that provides opportunities for stakeholders to come together and market Galway as a city of excellence in yet another area. For a modest investment it’s well worth pursuing.”