Belfast Telegraph

Royal wedding: not coming to a big screen near you...

Belfast isn’t showing event live for city centre crowds

Belfast will be the only UK capital not to show the Royal wedding on a big screen, it has emerged.

While large crowds flock to city centres across the UK to witness the moment Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot, people in Belfast will be resigned to watching the event at local street parties or huddled around the TV at home.

London, Edinburgh and Cardiff are just a few of many major UK cities showing the historic moment on large public screens free of charge.

Although a big screen has just been put up in the city centre, Belfast will not be joining them.

A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said: “We have no plans to show the Royal wedding on the big screen on Donegall Square.

“It has been set up for the Olympics and it will not be until later next month before it will go live.

“As to whether there should have been an event organised, that would be a political decision, it wouldn’t have gone through the council and would not have been discussed.”

The big screen standing just outside Belfast City Hall is one of 18 installed across the UK as part of an initiative organised by the BBC, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and local authorities to provide a service to show major events in the run-up to next year’s Olympics.

The 25-square metre screens have the latest digital video displays, with a computer-controlled playout and audio system.

Middlesbrough, Leeds, Manchester, Derby, Leicester, Swansea, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham will be showing the wedding free of charge on the BBC-backed big screens, while other cities including Bradford, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Swindon and Plymouth will be putting on similar events.

There has been little or no mention of the possibility of setting up the screen earlier or providing an alternative service.

Sinn Fein councillor Conor Maskey, who is chair of the committee that dealt with the big screen project, said: “The date of the Royal wedding precedes the date the big screen in Belfast will become fully operational.

“But, at the same time, half of the population of the North will not be fixed to their TV screens, never mind a big screen.”

SDLP councillor Bernie Kelly said: “I don’t think there has been any demand for a big screen event over here and I don’t think it is necessary.

“Certainly you would expect a big screen event in London.

“It is not coming up as one of the issues on the doorsteps.

“People are free to watch the event in the comfort of their own homes, but I don’t see big demand for it.”

Unionist politicians said a big screen event is something that should have been raised.

DUP junior minister Robin Newton said: “It is not a matter that has come before the council.

“This is a significant event and is important to a huge section of the community in Belfast and there will be many community events that will celebrate the Royal wedding.

“A big screen event is something that should have been looked at.”

Belfast UUP councillor David Browne said: “The council has issued a number of grants for street parties.

“Perhaps, in hindsight, it is something we should have looked at.

“It is just that it was never mentioned.

“It may be that people didn’t want there to be an extra security threat.”

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