Council ought to be promoting the Milk Cup, not denigrating it says Stevenson

BALLYMONEY town councillor Ian Stevenson has issued a statement thanking both Victor Leonard and Jim Weir from the Milk Cup organising committee for making their presentation to Ballymoney council last Tuesday, updating members on the importance of and work behind the Milk Cup.

In a statement to the Times, Cll rStevenson said: "The Milk Cup cannot be underestimated in its ability to bring people together both locally and from afar. To see people from Russia and China mixing so well with people from other countries,such as the U.S.A., here in Northern Ireland, is great to see. I have also made friends from Israel, both Arab and Jew who have also established a good friendship with each other through the medium of football.

"As a competition the Milk Cup has seen many up and coming premiership and international players in the teams that participate and gives players here, of an appropriate standard, the opportunity to advance, to be spotted by scouts, and to play against major football teams throughout the world.

"It has also promoted Northern Ireland to the world. People who take part are keen to come here and view it as a highlight of their year. They leave with nothing but a positive impression of the people here, of the friendliness of the people, the beauty of the area and the fact it is more peaceful than they had ever imagined, in fact in several cases, much more than at their home. It is obviously an event I strongly support and generally watch two to three matches a day when it is on, generally with my close friends from Israel and the U.S.A. The competition also brings a lot of happiness to spectators of all ages.

"The Milk Cup is not a party political event so I would like to say next is my own personal viewpoint, I was greatly aggrieved by how Ballymoney council's image was portrayed last year by the comments of mayor Bill Kennedy, though I must praise the professionalism, helpfulness and friendliness of those employees from council at the matches. On several occasions I tried to issue a counteracting statement to those of the mayor, but this was never published. Council ought to be promoting the Milk Cup, not denigrating it.

"It ought to have honoured its three year financial commitment (the honouring of which the D.U.P.backed) instead of going back on its word. It was to me a disgrace that the Mayor should be highlighting the benefits of the North West 200 at a Milk Cup reception, having already put what were perceived as discreditting remarks about the Milk Cup in local papers weeks previously and council having recently reduced promised funding to the competition.

"Many councils would be glad to have the worldwide publicity we get through the Milk Cup. The organisers have been very good to us. So I believe we should appreciate it along with the proud motorcycling heritage which this town has and do our best to keep the Milk Cup in Ballymoney for years to come instead of potentially jeopardising it as an event in the borough."