Belfast Telegraph

Plea for authorities to allow Belfast cross-community run to take place

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker
SDLP councillor Paul McCusker
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Calls have been made for the authorities to allow a cross-community 5k run aimed at developing and fostering relations in one of the cities most divided areas, to take place.

Organisers said the north Belfast 5K Run The Walls event - which was to start at the flashpoint Twaddell roundabout at the Ardoyne shops - can not take place as not enough notice was given to the correct authorities ahead of the August 22 start.

It was to be part of the Ardoyne/MarrowBone Community festival, an event aimed at helping to improve community relations from Woodvale, Ardoyne and the Oldpark areas.

Belfast City Council advises those looking to hold such events to give at least 12 weeks' notice in order to properly process the application and make the necessary arrangements.

Councillor Paul McCusker sits on the festival committee. He said the event was being led by young people in the area and they were unaware of the notice period required.

"This was a change from last year with new legislation introduced and it seems few people know about it," the told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I've been talking to other running clubs and organisers and it seems they were not aware of it either and it is certainly having a damaging effect right across the city.

"We have been engaged with the police and the council over the past two weeks. The local community police were very supportive but when they went to senior officers they came back to say there was three months' notice needed."

The route was to start at the roundabout before going down the Crumlin Road, across to the Shankill by Cambrai Street back to Hillview and up the Oldpark Road to Ardoyne for the finish and celebrations.

"Festival organisers and the local community are very angry and upset that this is being stopped giving all the recent events in north Belfast with homes being attacked and targeted including arranged fights. We want to build community relations and put a stop to this," continued Councillor McCusker.

"We have our own medical teams and risk assessments done. We need the police to assist at the junctions. This is not the marathon, it is a 5k run, if the police or council can facilitate it, they should.

"This legislation needs to be looked at and if it can't be changed, needs to be better promoted.

"This is a positive event, the council and police should see that and try to facilitate it."

Police said no one was available for comment, while no one at Belfast City Council could be contacted.

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