Belfast Telegraph

Belfast City Marathon: Church rector seeks quick decision on changes

By Brett Campbell

A church rector has urged Belfast City Council to settle a dispute over proposed changes to the Belfast Marathon after a decision was deferred on Wednesday night.

The popular event has been held on the May Day bank holiday for the last 36 years, but proposals to change the route and move it to a Sunday have caused concern among churches and traders.

UUP councillor Jeff Dudgeon said the council would "reserve its position until the Marathon company's consultation" with stakeholders is complete.

The Rev Kevin Graham, Rector of St Bartholomews in Stranmillis, expressed mixed feelings on the proposed changes, which will take effect from 2019, and said he sympathised with those on all sides of the debate.

"There is potential for difficulties and there is real threat to church services, but we can be flexible with our worship times," This is a great opportunity for us as a church to engage with the community in a positive way," he said.

But the Church of Ireland minister and former marathon runner called on organisers and the council to reach agreement soon, adding: "This can't keep being debated - it's not fair."

Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown said "there is no perfect route" for traders but vowed to try and please everyone when he meets event officials next week.

Belfast Telegraph

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