04 January 2006

Council backs St Pat's Day parade


This year's event will take place at Customs House Square

Belfast City Council is to provide £100,000 towards the organising of this year's St Patrick's Day parade.

Councillors voted on Wednesday by 25 votes to 24 to organise an outdoor, carnival-type event on 17 March.

The St Patrick's Day Carnival Committee, organisers of the event in recent years, said the move was "a major breakthrough".

In the past, the parade was regarded as contentious with unionists objecting to the presence of Irish tricolours.

Carnival committee spokesman Conor Maskey said: "We would encourage people from all corners of the city to ensure that they flock to this year's event and make it the most colourful, vibrant and carnival-filled to date, so that the argument can be made positively for future years."

In February last year, councillors voted not to grant £30,000 to help fund the 2005 St Patrick's Day parade.

However, in July the council agreed to provide funding for the 2006 parade.

At the time, the council said it had held a series of discussions with the carnival committee and hoped that with substantial council involvement, the event would be as inclusive as possible.

This year's event will be held at Customs House Square near Belfast city centre.

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