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Aengus McMahon

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Knowing Your Town at Night

Oct 1, 2014

Galway is one of a group of six applicants going for the next round of Purple Flag accreditation. The Purple Flag is a programme for excellence in the evening and night-time economy in towns and cities. Dublin and Ennis got the flag in 2013 followed by Killarney and Bray last year.

The Purple Flag is is the "gold standard" for night-time destinations. Like the Blue Flag for beaches, places that meet the stringent criteria can proudly fly the flag.

According to Sharon Carroll, Galway City Council:

'The Purple Flag is all about making Galway a better and safer place to be between the hours of 5 pm and 5 am. It's about offering more to visitors and locals alike. Purple Flag is the highest award for a vibrant and safe evening and night time economy in Europe offering successful towns and cities a way to recognise, promote and further develop the evening and night-time economy, making places more attractive and vibrant for all.

'We have brought together a group of interested stakeholders and are in the middle of the application procedure. Part of this application is an evaluation of the evening and night-time by the town/city stakeholders themselves - called the self-assessment to be carried out this month,' she said.

This will highlight any issues, as well as the positive aspects of the experience in Galway between 5pm and 5am. As part of its development programme for Ireland, the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) UK (the awarding body) has recently held a hands-on conference and night-walk in Ennis. This event saw 26 key stakeholders from new applicant towns and cities. The visiting party also included Richard Guiney, Chairman of Purple Flag Ireland; Jonny Birkett, ATCM evening and night time economy programme manager; Andrew Barnes, one of ATCM's key lead assessors and Carmen Cronin, Ireland-based Purple Flag Ireland Manager. Galway was represented by Sharon Carroll, Galway City Council; Maeve Joyce, Galway Chamber and Claire Burke, An Garda Siochana.

The programme broadly looks at six areas of development while supporting the participants to prepare their Purple Flag application.

Purple Flag accredited towns and cities have proven that they are welcoming to everyone, offer safe ways for visitors to travel home after dark and provide a good mix of venues. Purple Flag towns and cities benefit from more visitors, lower crime and anti-social behaviour and improved perceptions of centres.

The Purple Flag accreditation is based on five sets of criteria that town centres must meet in order to obtain the award. These include Wellbeing in terms of safety and care, Movement meaning transport and car parking, Appeal of restaurants, bars, other venues including arts and culture, Place in terms of location and design and most importantly the Policy Envelope which shows a collaboration between sectors, agencies, service providers and policy-makers.

'One of the most important issues when it comes to judging for the Purple Flag is the level of awareness of the programme among businesses and their staff in the evening/night time economy. We need to spread the word and raise the level of awareness about our application for the Purple Flag', concludes Sharon Carroll.

Further literature and details on the Purple Flag can be had by contacting Sharon at