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Loyalist ‘hatefest’ in Tyrone allocated £5,000 in funding, investigated by council


Sinn Fein’s Ruairi McHugh

Sinn Fein’s Ruairi McHugh

Sinn Fein’s Ruairi McHugh

Council officials are to carry out an investigation into an event in Co Tyrone that has been described as descending into a “sectarian hatefest”.

The event, organised by Castlederg Young Loyalists, was allocated £5,000 from Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Good Relations Fund.

Sinn Fein’s Ruairi McHugh raised concerns at this month’s council meeting.

He said: “On Friday, July 9 there was an event held in Albert Street car park which is under the remit of council. The event was billed as part of a weekend of celebrations to recognise the Twelfth of July.

“It was an outdoor concert on the Friday night and I was inundated with phone calls from members of my own community who were having to suffer not only the bad singing, but the type of songs that were emanating throughout the town of Castlederg and beyond.

“There was also commentary made lambasting unionists for selling land to ‘Fenians’, and this is stuff I have heard myself first-hand, and indeed second-hand, from others.

“Indeed, I have to say it just wasn’t from members of the nationalist community.

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“There were people of the unionist community who spoke to me and were embarrassed by what they heard.

“The reason I am raising it is because this event was held in a council-maintained car park, but I’m also led to believe it received a substantial amount of ratepayers’ money through the Good Relations funding.

“I don’t think ratepayers of Derry City and Strabane District Council should be paying for that type of abuse.

“There’s also another issue. The car park that is council-maintained is still bedecked in loyalist and unionist flags and paraphernalia.”

Mr McHugh asked how much the event received and had the money already been distributed.

Council official Karen McFarland confirmed it had been allocated £5,000.

However, the funding had not yet been paid to Castlederg Young Loyalists.

Proposing an investigation into what happened and calling for the removal of the flags and bunting, Mr McHugh added: “£5,000 of ratepayers’ money going to an event in which the people of Castlederg were subjected to out-and-out sectarian remarks is not something that promotes good relations, which that money is for.”

DUP councillor Keith Kerrgian said he had spoken to members of the band, who were distancing themselves from comments made by a person at the event, adding that some of the bunting was related to the Northern Ireland centenary.

Ulster Unionist councillor Derek Hussey said he was unaware of the events Mr McHugh had raised. However, he was aware of some of the language used by one person.

Members from all parties supported the proposal from councillor McHugh.

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