War of words over ‘Game of Thrones’

A WAR of words which would not have looked out of place on the tv hit series ‘Game of Thrones’ has broken out at Moyle Council after a wall was damaged close to the scenic tourist hotspot of Ballintoy Harbour.

Ballintoy has attracted film crews from the internationally-renowned fantasy programme which often features battle scenes but at the Moyle Council chambers in Ballycastle verbal battlelines were drawn up.

Ulster Unionist councillor Joan Baird told a council meeting damage had been caused in the area by people associated with filming and she wanted it to be repaired.

But Independent councillor Padraig McShane launched a battlecry of his own and accused her of “chastising” people who were bringing investment and prestige into the area.

Cllr McShane said he was not sure about the situation but whilst there may have been some damage he said councillors are often accused of having “negative attitudes”.

He said the Council should not go down the road of “chastising” people and said the Game of Thrones film crews are very much welcome in the area and he didn’t want the Council to be sending out a “bad message”.

Cllr Baird hit back saying damage should be repaired and she said ratepayers’ should not have to pick up the tab “for other people’s mistakes”.

She said it is regrettable that damage was caused in such an important tourist area.

After the meeting, Cllr Baird told the Times: “I am not against Game of Thrones coming at all as it has been fairly good for the area. They were here recently and at least it was not at the height of the tourist season. It is better if they come late in the tourist season so that the harbour is not shut off to the public.

“A small wall was damaged on the last bend on the Harbour Road, an old stone wall about two metres in length and our council officer was out on Thursday and had a look and he was getting in touch with the film crew. I just want the damage to be repaired.”

Moyle Council’s Director of Environmental Services, Aidan McPeake, told the Times: “There were three or four stones dislodged from a small wall at the last turn down to the harbour which was hit by a Game of Thrones vehicle. The wall was repaired last week by the company.”

This is not the first time Cllr Baird has been critical of aspects of the ‘Game of Thrones’ filming at Ballintoy.

Last year she said Ballintoy Harbour was left in an improper condition by the film-makers.

She claimed plastic fish used in the programme were left lying around and ended up floating in the harbour and that real fish was also left in a stinking pile.

Cllr Baird said at the time: “Old plastic fish were left lying about. Props were left lying and old soil and grass around the harbour walls were not removed. Some of the plastic fish were floating about and proper fish was also left lying which was stinking. I am annoyed that this rubbish was left behind,” she added.

Last year, Northern Ireland Screen, which has been involved in attracting film crews, said divers have been sent into the water at Ballintoy to remove pieces of the set.

A spokesperson said at the time: “In production terms it was a massive ‘dress’ so the clear up operation will be similarly huge. The crews are up there now working flat out and divers are in the water. We understand that most of the harbour has been cleared.

“There is obviously a range of views when a production comes to town and in this case we have also read reports which state that the production was welcomed and that further filming would be similarly positively received.”