Northern Ireland council refuses to spend £500 to attend Pride parade
A council has decided against attending Belfast's Pride Day parade because it does not represent "value for money".
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) Borough Council made the decision on Monday night after council officers said that a group of 30 delegates taking part in the parade would cost £500, while a group of over 30 would cost an additional £350.
The decision came after a Sinn Fein Notice of Motion, passed last month, gave the go-ahead to light up the district's civic buildings in the colours of the Pride rainbow on the day of Belfast's Pride parade.
In a separate motion brought forward by Alliance, the green light was given for a Pride flag to be flown over civic buildings on the same day. It was agreed, as per Sinn Fein's Notice of Motion, that ABC Council officers would explore the possibility of the local authority being represented at the August parade.
However, at Monday's council meeting it was decided that a delegation would not attend the annual event.
The DUP group leader on ABC Council, councillor Mark Baxter, said that his party objected to both motions and added that there was "low interest" in anyone attending the Pride parade.
"Based on the low interest across the chamber, with only four out of 41 councillors expressing any interest in attending, this was not seen as value for money," Mr Baxter added.
"With the distinct lack of interest from the very councillors who proposed the motion, a decision was taken that ABC Council does not formally attend the event."
However, Sinn Fein councillor Paul Duffy, who proposed last month's motion, said he would still attend the event and was very disappointed that the council would not be sending a delegation.
"I'm deeply disappointed, not just for myself but for the whole community," added the Portadown councillor.
"The response I'm getting from Protestants, Catholics and others has blown me away. They are very, very disappointed in the council.
"This was supposed to have promoted the council by showing that it was taking a step forward and it's just a total step in the wrong direction.
"I was planning on going as part of the council group, but I'm still going to go irrespective of that decision."