Giro d'Italia: Towns on route get £145,000 to prepare
Five Northern Ireland towns and cities have been given money by the executive to help them prepare for the Giro d'Italia in May.
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has allocated £145,000 to be split between Armagh, Glengormley, Ballycastle, Larne and Carrickfergus.
The Giro is the world's second biggest cycle race and begins in NI on 9 May.
Its second stage on 10 May begins and ends in Belfast and is routed through County Antrim.
The third stage on 11 May starts in Armagh and finishes in Dublin.
The money will be used to improve the appearance of properties and derelict sites along the race routes.'Mass interest'
Armagh is to receive £82,000, Glengormley £16,650, Ballycastle £15,750, Larne £18,000 and Carrickfergus £13,500.
Mr McCausland said: "This is another huge opportunity for all the people of Northern Ireland to show their support for sporting events here which will have a worldwide audience.
"I share with my executive colleagues our delight in being able to stage this prestigious event, which will attract mass interest and media coverage across so many of our towns.
"Ensuring we do our best to create welcoming and attractive town centres for the many visitors and tourists expected to arrive in support of these elite cyclists is essential.
"The funding will be used to improve business premises, buildings and derelict sites which may be seen by millions of viewers across the globe. We want to make sure that Northern Ireland can deliver these types of events and that local areas gain benefits that are lasting."
The total cost to Northern Ireland of staging the Giro is expected to be in the region of £4.2m.