Belfast Telegraph

Job axe row 'could silence choir'

Top churchmen are facing demands to resign over an extraordinary row that threatened to silence a famous cathedral choir.

It followed a decision to axe the musical director's post at St Anne's in Belfast, where five members of the ruling board walked out in protest at the cost-cutting measure.

Choristers have now threatened to stopping singing unless Philip Stopford is reinstated.

English-born Mr Stopford, who was appointed to the position in 2003, is a critically-acclaimed choral composer whose pieces for the St Anne's choir have been sold on CDs worldwide.

The musician, who is in his early 30s, has been off work on health grounds since the decision to make his post redundant was made earlier this summer.

Billy Miskimmin, one of the board members who resigned, called for senior Church of Ireland clergy and officials involved in the matter to stand down.

They include board chairman and Bishop of Connor Rev Alan Abernethy and the Dean of St Anne's Houston McKelvey.

"This is a resigning matter - they need to resign and get out and let a whole new flock take over," said Mr Miskimmin.

Dean McKelvey declined to comment on the issue. Mr Stopford also said he wasn't able to discuss it.

Mr Miskimmin resigned from the board with four other disillusioned colleagues - Dr Michael Callender, a retired liver specialist, Mervyn Hempton, Gwen Preece and Chris MacLaughlin."

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