Van Morrison free concert row after Belfast councillors get one in five tickets for Waterfront Hall gig
A row has erupted around the free Van Morrison concert at Belfast's Waterfront Hall after it emerged a fifth of the tickets are reserved for elected councillors and VIPs.
Belfast City Council has confirmed that 80% of the tickets are being made available to the public.
Belfast city councillors, however, are each entitled to four tickets for next month's gig.
The concert on November 15 had been organised to mark the musician being honoured with the Freedom of the City.
It had been arranged for 2,500 tickets to be distributed through a lottery system.
People living in Belfast – who can still apply for tickets until 5pm on Wednesday – are each allowed a total of two.
The allocation to councillors means 204 tickets will be reserved for elected representatives and VIPs.
Any tickets which are sold on for profit will become void, the City Council has warned.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Mairtin O Muilleoir, who will present the freedom honour to the veteran singer, said they were expecting a huge level of interest.
A Belfast City Council spokeswoman confirmed at least 80% of tickets are being made available to the public.
"At this stage, around 500 tickets are being retained for council members, special guests of Van Morrison, representatives of the music industry and other VIPs, but it is likely some of these will also be released to the public."
Former Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers said they tried to organise the ticket allocation in the fairest way possible.
"We've done our level best to try and accommodate as many people as possible," he said.
"I know we're going to disappoint people.
"Many of us are giving tickets to people who would never normally have the opportunity of attending the Waterfront Hall.
"We are a caring council.
"All councillors will play their part in ensuring that as many people as possible get the opportunity of coming along on that important occasion."
Belfast punk legend Terri Hooley said it was not right that so many tickets were handed out to councillors and others.
He said: "It's absolutely ridiculous that the councillors in the Belfast City Hall get tickets. They get junkets all over the world, they are always away at dinners and dos. It would be nice for the ordinary people of Belfast to get something.
"I think all the councillors should have a reception at the Belfast City Hall for Van. It's wonderful that he's going to be a freeman of the city, and he's such an absolute talent."