Belfast Telegraph

Will our old divisions upset the party for Royalists?

By Patrice Dougan

Come this day next week millions of people across the UK will be celebrating the marriage of their future King and Queen.

Thousands of people here will also be joining in the festivities.

The recent visit by Prince William and Kate Middleton showed how popular the Royal couple are as hundreds flocked to see them. So have the old sectarian divisions finally disappeared?

Apparently not, as one council has been accused of turning down funding for a Royal wedding street party because it was deemed “a Protestant affair”.

Two of the major supermarkets have also come under fire for not selling their full range of Royal merchandise because of fears of equality and political correctness.

Clandeboye Village Residents Association was refused funding for a street party under the EU’s Peace Three programme because it places an emphasis on promotion of cross-community events, and the Royal wedding was decided to be a “predominantly Protestant” celebration.

Aaron McMahon, chair of the association, said the decision was “laughable”.

“It’s the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a long time. It’s a public holiday, everybody is welcome,” he said.

“We’re still going ahead with it, but it will be on a shoestring budget,” he said.

A spokeswoman for North Down Borough Council said the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, to which Mr McMahon applied |for funding, “does not provide grant funding for local community associations”.

“Recognising that a number of local community associations intended to celebrate the day, however, money was made available from existing development budgets and an application process put in place that any formally constituted group could access,” she said. “Via this process, Clandeboye Village Association will receive support and supplies to the value of £350.”

Mr McMahon said this represented a “token gesture” of “crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks”.

Meanwhile, the DUP’s Paul Givan said he has received calls from people complaining that Sainsbury’s in Lisburn is not selling the same range of Royal merchandise as in its English stores.

“When I spoke to the manager at Sprucefield they said they had taken a decision, following discussions with the Equality Commission, not to provide the full range,” Mr Givan said.

“I also approached Tesco and they said they will look at their position on this.”

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We are stocking products in some of our stores and the majority of Royal wedding products are available online.”

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