AN IRVINE business has been blasted by a devastated community group after apparently destroying their Marymass float and keeping it for themselves.

Fullarton Community Group says dozens of their kids and volunteers were left to walk the seven-mile Marymass parade route after Ardagh Glass bosses stripped their float bare and redecorated it with company banners – 45 minutes before the parade kicked off.

The community group, spearheaded by Donna Fitzpatrick, took part in the previous week’s Fourth Port Parade, despite the pouring rain, and were looking forward to doing it all again in their Mary Queen of Scots-themed float for Saturday’s big Marymass Parade.

However as Donna and dozens of her dressed-up volunteers and children waited in Irvine’s High Street for their float to collect them before the parade began, the float arrived totally stripped bare of their decorations and had been given an Ardagh Glass-makeover.

Furious Donna says when she asked Ardagh employees who were aboard the float, what was going on, they told her the float belonged to Ardagh Glass and the Fullarton group only had use of it for the Fourth Port Parade.

She told the Times: “It was absolutely disgusting and devastating. I was standing there with all these kids all dressed up in their costumes ready to get on the float that all of our volunteers had spent money and a lot of hours decorating, and they turned up and had ripped down and destroyed all of our hard work.

“I asked what on earth was going on and they just said we only had it for the Forth Port Parade. That is absolute rubbish.

“The agreement was we had the float for the entire festival. In fact, Andy Tremble from the Carters sent me a picture message at 9.30am on Marymass Saturday showing me all the floats and saying how great they all were. The parade starts at 10.15am and by then they had pulled our float to bits and got on it themselves. It’s sickening and we were devastated, but we carried on and took part in the parade anyway because we didn’t want to let the community or our Fullarton Queen down.

“It has ruined Marymass for me and spoiled my weekend. I have barely slept because I am so angry and upset. It feels like a betrayal. We want answers and we deserve answers.”

The Times spoke to a spokesman from Ardagh Glass, who declined to give his name, however he admitted the incident had been “a misunderstanding” and said the company hoped to meet with Donna to explain.

He said: “We are trying to arrange a meeting with Donna. It’s been a giant misunderstanding. We did offer to take them on our float but they refused. At the moment we are dealing with it and the Carters are trying to get hold of Donna to explain the situation.”

Andy Tremble from the Irvine Carters Society said he was shocked and upset when he heard what happened.

He said: “I think it’s just been a huge miscommunication but we are going to have a meeting with everyone involved to try and sort it out.

“It’s such a shame that this happened on what was an otherwise superb Marymass Saturday. When Donna called me and told me what happened I just got a knot in my stomach.

“It should never have happened but I just hope that we can resolve it and move forward and still support the Fullarton Community and we will do everything we can to make sure that happens.”