Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Royal wedding parties: Northern Ireland streets behind rest of the UK

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With just weeks to go before the Royal wedding, well-wishers in Northern Ireland have yet to get into the party spirit.

Fewer than 70 official street parties have been planned across the province to celebrate Kate and William’s big day on April 29.

While bunting and flags are flying off the shelves in the rest of the UK, local party plans are much more low-key.

Only nine out of the 26 councils have received applications from members of the public hoping to host a Royal wedding event.

The biggest celebrations will be held in Castlereagh, where 26 schools, community organisations and residents’ groups have been granted funding for parties.

Sixteen events have been planned in areas around Lisburn, including a traditional street party between Hillsborough Castle and Market House.

However, council officials in Armagh, Ballymoney, Derry, Omagh and Cookstown have not received a single application for permission to hold an event.

In Dungannon, only two official street parties have been planned, while Belfast City Council has provided funding for three family fun days.

From bureaucracy to concerns over insurance costs, the application process has put many people off organising a street party.

Chris Gittins, director of charity Streets Alive, said he was not surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for the Royal wedding.

“While street parties can bring people together in a neutral way, the Royal wedding may be a more sensitive issue in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Meanwhile, others said they expected thousands across the province to take to the streets to commemorate the big day.

Agnes Junk (67), chairwoman of |a north Belfast community group, has planned a Royal wedding festival at Grove Playing Fields.

“It is really important to celebrate the Royal wedding — not for religious or any other reasons, but because it gets the whole community together,” she said.

Factfile

Where the biggest celebrations will take place:

  • Castlereagh — 26 neighbourhoods and community groups have received funding for Royal wedding parties.
  • Lisburn — 16 events have been planned, including a traditional street party hosted by the Hillsborough Old Guard at Hillsborough Castle.
  • Larne — seven street parties, including one in Dixon Park complete with brass bands, bouncy castles and face painting for children.


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