WATERFORD City & County Council has withdrawn funding for the Discover Waterford hot air balloon.
The Irish Hot Air Ballooning Championships 2015 takes place from September 20th to 25th, and could mark the last appearance of the Discover Waterford balloon over the Déise.
Local pilot Joe Daly has been a common sight across Waterford and South Kilkenny flying the Discover Waterford balloon throughout the last number of years.
He has also attended a number of hot air ballooning events in the UK and Europe.
Raising the funding issue at the September plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council, Cllr Jim Griffin (SF) said the council was “missing a huge opportunity”.
He asked that the council retain funding for another year and suggested that the balloon could be used to promote Waterford as part of Ireland’s Ancient East and the Three Sisters European Capital of Culture bid.
Director of Economic Development Lar Power explained that the council had originally entered into a five year arrangement to provide funding for the hot air balloon.
He said the decision to withdraw funding was made after a cost-benefit analysis was completed.
Cllr Mary Roche (Ind) supported Cllr Griffin’s calls, and she agreed that the hot air balloon presented a “huge opportunity” for Waterford.
A statement on the Discover Waterford Hot Air Balloon Facebook page stated: “Funding for the balloon itself is no longer available from our Council and this makes flying a balloon of this size locally and overseas impossible for us. We hope you enjoy the sight of the balloon over our proud city this September!
“The balloon is likely to move on to new owners in Europe and be re-branded but we will all have great memories of spreading word of the Déise in locations such as Bristol and Metz. We hope we did the city proud across Europe.”