Belfast Telegraph

Council funds delay casts doubt on major Northern Ireland Pride concert

Participants in a previous Newry Pride Parade.
Participants in a previous Newry Pride Parade.
Claire Richards
Heather Small
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

There are concerns that an International UK and Ireland Pride concert in Newry may not go ahead, as tens of thousands of pounds in funding has been held up.

A spokesperson for Pride in Newry slammed Newry, Mourne and Down District Council after receiving less than half of the agreed £125,000 so far.

It is expected that the Pride parade will attract at least 50,000 people to the city on August 31.

International UK and Ireland Pride is one of three global events that are running as part of the Stonewall 50 campaign, the others being World Pride in New York and Europride in Vienna.

Organisers said they have not received any funding from the council since February and were due to accept £50,000 in April, which has yet to be handed over.

The £60,000 the council granted in February has been used to cover deposits for concert infrastructure, as well as acts such as Steps' lead singer Claire Richards, M People's Heather Small and B*Witched.

However, if the artists are not paid the full amount before August 31, they will not perform.

"It has made planning extremely difficult," said the Pride in Newry spokesperson.

"We are doing our sums furiously so we can make this happen without the council's support and that's a very difficult road for us to travel, but unfortunately we have been left with no option.

"We will endeavour to do this with or without the council."

A council spokesperson stated that while it has committed £125,000 to Pride in Newry, further funds will only be released when their £60,000 expenditure has been verified by the council.

Issues were also raised by Pride in Newry about the decision to move the concert from the city's McClelland Park to Newry's Albert Basin site.

"The council will make the Albert Basin Park accessible to the group for the event; however, any infrastructure required for the event will be the responsibility of the event organisers," added the council spokesperson.

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