Belfast Telegraph

Celtic fanzone organisers withdraw £15,000 council funding application

An application to Belfast City Council for £15,000 to fund a fanzone in west Belfast for the match between Celtic and Linfield has been withdrawn, the fanzone's organisers have said.

In a statement  a spokesperson for Feile an Phobail said that the group's application to the West Belfast Police and Community Safety Partnership had been withdrawn.

The application for the fan zone at the Devenish Complex was put forward after Celtic's ticket allocation at Windsor Park was not made available to fans. It had been voted through unanimously at a City Hall meeting.

In its statement, Feile an Phobail has said that its main aims were to "provide a controlled, safe and secure environment for those fans wanting to watch the game thus reducing local community tension and supporting the security plan around this fixture; reduce tension and build-up of crowds at key interfaces and; [to] encourage people without tickets to stay away from Windsor Park".

Prior to making the application for council funding, the group says that it managed to secure support from "local businesses, elected representatives, statutory bodies and critically, those organisations who work tirelessly to reduce tensions at interfaces".

The group added that after consultation with other stakeholders it was decided that they did not require additional funding to support the fanzone.

Feile will not be used as a political football despite attempts by some in the media and those politically opposed to the community values Feile upholds. Feile an Phobail

"We wish all of those attending today's game and watching throughout the city a safe and sporting experience," the group added.

Earlier this week the Belfast Telegraph revealed the £15,000 funding for the Celtic fanzone was criticised by unionist members of the Council.

The UUP's Jim Rodgers said: "People are angry and have expressed amazement over the possibility of Belfast City Council providing financial assistance for this fanzone when applications for similar facilities have been denied in the past."

On Friday evening Sinn Fein Belfast City Councillor Matt Garret said: “I am extremely disappointed at unionists councillors aimed to turn the Fanzone at the Devenish complex into a political football.

“Unionists councillors are falling over themselves to criticise and close down a positive initiative aimed at diffusing tensions and ensuring that this football match passes peacefully.”

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