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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Stewart show backed by public cash
Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart is booked for Stormont
A concert by veteran rock star Rod Stewart at Northern Ireland's Parliament Buildings is set to be underwritten with public funds - to the tune of 100,000.

The money is being provided by the Northern Ireland Events Company which has already shelled out 300,000 for other Stormont concerts.

Sinn Fein has said it will be raising the issue with the Northern Ireland public accounts committee.

But John Walker of the Northern Ireland Events Company said the funding was the only way the unique concert could take place.


The Exchequer has been a net benefactor on all the concerts at Stormont

Jim Aiken
Concert promoter

Elton John was the first artist to play Stormont - a unique concert because the singer waived his fee.

Since then, public funds have been used to cover losses at other events.

'Unique venue'

Concert promoter Jim Aiken said it was the only way he could bring stars like Rod Stewart to Stormont.

"The Exchequer has been a net benefactor on all the concerts at Stormont, in terms of VAT and PAYE as well as the extra revenue generated for Northern Ireland's tourism and hospitality industries," he said.

Jim Aiken:
Jim Aiken: Exchequer is net benefactor on concerts
"We go in on a site that has no sanitation, no power, no seats, no dressing rooms, no stage, no lights, no generators, no screens - that is a huge cost.

"If we were doing that in a football arena as we do in Dublin, there would be fencing, there would be sanitation, there would be power, there would be seats."

Sell-out audience

However, Sinn Fein said it was concerned that 300,000 had already been spent on the concerts.

More than 100,000 in public funds was pumped into the concert by world famous tenor Pavarotti - a trend that looks set to continue.

Rod Stewart is set to take to the stage in front of Parliament Buildings on 27 July and is expected to play to a sell-out audience.

Mr Aiken said the veteran rock star was looking forward to playing at the Belfast venue.

Stormont: Now a concert venue
Stormont: Now a concert venue

The 57-year-old performer, who is famous for his gravelly voice, has sold more than 100 million records across the world since scoring his first number one hit with the enduring classic Maggie May.

Other hits have included You Wear it Well, Sailing, I Don't Want To Talk About It and Do You Think I'm Sexy.

He feared he would never sing again after having a cancerous lump removed from his throat nearly two years ago.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
John Walker of the Northern Ireland Events Company:
"We are satisfied Rod Stewart is a major international act"
BBC NI's Martina Purdy:
"Stormont concerts do not come cheap"
See also:

15 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Stewart to rock Stormont
12 Sep 99 | Northern Ireland
Weather brightens for Pavarotti
03 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Cancer threatened to ruin Rod's voice
04 Jun 98 | Latest News
Elton rocks Stormont
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