Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

I’ll take gay sauna battle onto the streets, vows angry pastor

A Protestant fundamentalist pastor has said that he will take his protest against a gay sauna onto the streets now that it has been granted full planning permission.

The Cage, owned by Belfast man Barry McGonagle, has been operating in Londonderry since February but was only granted planning approval this week.

However, Mark Bradford from the Bethnal Baptist church in the city claimed the application submitted by the owner was incorrect. “There is no mention in the application for a dark room, a cinema or private cubicles but this is what is being advertised,” said Mr Bradford.

“While I and other ministers have quietly gathered over 400 signatures on a petition protesting against this place, I will not rule out taking our protests to the streets now and I will not stop until this carbuncle is removed from the city.“

Earlier, Mr McGonagle told the Belfast Telegraph that he intended to remain in John Street for the foreseeable future.

He said: “I know this is a first for the city and it's not everyone's cup of tea.

“I wasn't expecting 100% of the people to be happy but I will not let this deter me.

“The customers that have already been here have been very complimentary and are glad that something like this is in Derry for gay and bisexual men.

“I made a very deliberate decision to come to Derry because there is already a facility like this in Belfast but nothing like this in the north west.

“With a potential market of 320,000 people when you consider the surrounding towns and districts it made good sense.

“This is for a very specific target market and there are a number of similar facilities in other parts of the province and throughout the UK and I hope this one in Derry will be very successful.”

Mr McGonagle added that he respected everyone had a right to their opinion providing it would not impinge on the rights of |the people coming into his premises.

Factfile

Visitors to the Cage pay a £10 fee at weekends, and are handed a towel to change into, according to owner Barry McGonagle.

A sauna is available for use, as well as showers and a communal lounge.

Afterwards, users have the choice of various other darker or private cubicles.

Mr McGonagle has said that any sexual contact is between consenting adults.

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