Northern Ireland

Tour de France: plans for all-Ireland leg back on – Murphy

The Economy Minister said previous talks on bringing the world’s most famous cycle race to Ireland were suspended because Stormont had collapsed.

A shot from the Tour de France stage 21 in 2019, a cyclist in a yellow jacket and two cyclists in maroon jackets
Tour de France 2019 Discussions are to restart on bringing the starting stages of the Tour de France to Ireland (Pete Goding/PA Wire/PA)

Stormont officials have been instructed to restart discussions over an all-Ireland bid to host the opening stages of the Tour de France, Conor Murphy has said.

The Economy Minister said previous talks on a joint bid to host the Grand Depart of the world’s most famous cycle race in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were suspended because of the absence of a Stormont Executive, but he now wanted to explore what bringing the event to the island could achieve.

The 2014 Giro D’Italia cycle race featured stages on both sides of the Irish border and was hailed for its economic and tourist impact.



Northern Ireland Economy Minister Conor Murphy was asked about an all-Ireland bid to host the Tour de France
Conor Murphy comments Northern Ireland Economy Minister Conor Murphy was asked about an all-Ireland bid to host the Tour de France (Liam McBurney/PA)

At ministerial question time, Mr Murphy was asked if there are plans to submit an all-Ireland bid to host the opening stages of the Tour de France.

He said: “In July 2023 discussions on a potential all-Ireland bid to host the Tour de France Grand Depart were suspended largely due to the absence of an Executive.

“Since coming into post I have instructed my officials to reopen that dialogue.

“As part of those deliberations the cost of the bid would have to be weighed against the benefits.

“I do note that in 2014 when the Giro d’Italia Grande Partenza was hosted in Ireland, it generated around £2.5 million pounds in economic activity, £12.7 million in tourism impact and around 227,000 visitors.”

Philip McGuigan, Sinn Fein MLA for north Antrim
Gambling warning Philip McGuigan, Sinn Fein MLA for north Antrim (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan asked the minster about the economic benefits of bringing events such as the Tour and the Euro 2028 football tournament to Northern Ireland.

Mr Murphy said: “I think it’s well recognised that, of course, it does require some upfront investment and that is a time when we are very, very challenged financially, in terms of the funding available to the Executive.

“But I think most of these large events have shown, and I think it would be no different hopefully on the basis that we could secure the Euros coming here as well, all these events would tend to have a longer-lasting economic, economically beneficial outcome and certainly in terms of tourism, which is a growing market for us and the key part of our industry here.

“So yes, I would certainly be approaching from the point of view of what the investment can achieve.

“The question, I suppose, is for the department to set against all of the other priorities they have is whether we can secure the necessary investment.

“But I look forward to doing the analysis, rejoining the discussion on that which had been parked as a consequence of no Executive and see what the estimations are for it and what we can hope to achieve.”