Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Rushmere shopping centre tells two Christian brass bands there's no room at inn this Christmas

A Salvation Army band playing carols in Belfast
A Salvation Army band playing carols in Belfast

A Salvation Army band faces being left out in the cold this Christmas after a shopping centre said there wasn't room for it to perform there this year.

The Lurgan branch of the Christian organisation, which raises thousands of pounds for good causes each year, has performed for festive shoppers at Craigavon's Rushmere shopping centre for the past two decades.

But this year it has been told the only available location for it to stage two Christmas performances is outside a side entrance to the mall.

Another Christian fundraising band, Portadown-based St Mark's Silver Band, has also been told it must play outside.

The Christmas performances at Rushmere are among the most lucrative of the year in terms of fundraising for the two bands.

One of the band members affected said both were informed of the decision by email.

He said: "Our Christmas performances have always given us a good opportunity to raise money and entertain and get to know the public. It's disappointing."

The source said the band was told there would not be enough space inside the centre this December and claimed some traders had complained about the noise of the bands last year.

Local DUP councillor Carla Lockhart said the Salvation Army and St Mark's bands were "part of the fabric of Rushmere's Christmas celebrations for over 15 years".

A spokeswoman for Rushmere said it had "a long, established and proud history for supporting many charities, including the Salvation Army and St Mark's Silver Band".

She added: "We have sought to make contact with official representatives from both St Mark's Silver Band and the Salvation Army and, if there are any issues, we will make sure that they are successfully resolved."

BACKGROUND

The Salvation Army is an international Christian church worshipping and working in 126 countries and has more than 800 local churches in the UK and Ireland. It raises millions of pounds each year for good causes.

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