17 February 2005 Edition
Hypocrisy as City Hall bigots deny Carnival funding
Unionist and Alliance councillors on Belfast City Council, voted against funding this year's St Patrick's Day Carnival for the second time in two weeks during a special meeting on Monday 14 February.
Their refusal to allocate the money has been met with outrage after it was revealed that council chiefs are to make grants totalling £50,000 to the organisers of loyalist bonfires if they agree to locate their fires on suitable sites and also take part in other forms of "cultural celebration", such as music and dance.
The last ditch attempt by carnival organisers to force Belfast City Council to fund the event failed after Unionist and Alliance councillors banded together to block the £30,000 grant the Carnival committee requested.
At the meeting a Sinn Féin motion calling for funding for the March 17 event was defeated by 25 to 21 votes, with PUP Councillor Billy Hutchinson voting in favour of the Carnival committee. "I met with the carnival committee and while I may not agree on every issue with them, I am prepared to work with them. I have listened to unionists raise complaint after complaint about this carnival and to be honest I have not found one complaint to be valid," he said.
The funding had originally been approved by the council's good relations committee, but that decision was overturned by unionist and Alliance councillors at last month's full council meeting.
Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Browne said there was no reason why the council should not have supported the request as the organising committee had done all in its power to ensure unionists could play an active role in the day.
Browne also hit out at what he describes as the hypocrisy of Alliance Mayor Tom Ekin who voted against the motion yet accepted an invitation to go to London and celebrate St Patrick's Day there.
It has since emerged that DUP Councillor Nelson McCausland will lead an Orange Order contingent in the St Patrick's Day parade in Cork.