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Singer Ryan McMullan hits out at NI Executive as he’s forced to postpone Ulster Hall shows

Management say singer given verbal go-ahead for ‘test event’


Ryan McMullan

Ryan McMullan

Ryan McMullan

Singer Ryan McMullan has hit out at the Northern Ireland Executive as he was forced to push back two shows scheduled for this weekend. 

The Co Down star had been due to perform at Belfast’s Ulster Hall on Friday and Saturday night. 

He accused the Northern Ireland Executive of disregarding those who had made arrangements to attend the shows saying they would now take place on July 27 and 28. 

The Department of Communities said it had been in talks with the singer’s team. 

In an emotional Twitter post on Thursday morning he offered an apology saying he had just found out about the forced cancellation. 

He branded the situation “ridiculous”.

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"I can only apologise to everybody who bought tickets, babysitters and hotel rooms. I didn’t want this to happen and I can’t believe the NI Executive waited this long to tell us. 

“It is absolutely shocking… it is not my fault, it is the NI Executive’s.”

He said he had hoped the shows later in the month could go ahead. 

“I am so sick of this. Any time I try to do anything it gets turned away last minute so nobody even gets the chance to cancel their plans. It is always last minute.”

Mr McMullan said his late cancellation meant there was “zero chance” to claim refunds.

“They [Executive] should be ashamed of themselves leaving it this long,” he added, “your support has always been infallible”

In its update on July 8, the NI Executive said ticketed concerts could begin from July 26, subject to ratification on July 22. 

Mr McMullan’s manager, Paul Hamilton of We are Focal Music Management, said they had been in discussions with the Executive on holding a “test event” for weeks and had offered various dates.

"They loved the idea,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

He said they had offered dates in June which had been knocked back after being told it could go ahead before they finally decided to “go all in” for this weekend’s shows. 

“We had a total of 350 tickets sold for each show and with a capacity of over 1,500 you can’t get more socially distanced than that,” he said.

He said they were given a “verbal go-ahead” for the first show on July 19 and asked for confirmation from the Executive at least a a week in advance. They had contacted the Executive a number of times over the past week but said effectively all communication ceased until around 11am on Thursday when they were told it could not happen. 

"We have hire costs to cover, musicians need brought in, lightening staff, floor staff and we just can’t cancel them at the last minute. The Executive have us over a barrel. Hopefully the shows can go ahead later,” he added. 

Last month the singer Van Morrison hit out at the health minister over the coronavirus regulations. Organisers of his show at the Europa believed they could stage a concert after Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey told the Assembly it could go ahead provided it was within the current rules – which, at the time of the show did not allow for singing. Instead Mr Morrison took to the stage for a speech and was joined by the North Antrim MP Ian Paisley.

The NI Executive was contacted for a response. 

The Department of Communities in a statement said: “There has been regular, two way communication between the event organisers and officials and efforts to explore the potential to support these concerts as learning events were open, genuine and undertaken in good faith.

"Ultimately agreement to the proposal was not possible by the time of the organiser’s deadline. The Executive has agreed that, subject to ratification on 22 July, restrictions relating to concerts of this nature will be relaxed from 26 July.”

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