28 February 2006

City plans for St Patrick's Day

Belfast City Council is to run the celebrations for the first time

Details of the first council run Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have been announced by Belfast City Council.

The council has banned alcohol and emblems, including flags, at the celebrations, which will cost £100,000.

The city's deputy Lord Mayor, Pat Convery, said he hoped the parade on 17 March would be an inclusive event.

"We are saying there should be no emblems or symbols that would be deemed as sectarian, racist, or anything that would be offensive to anyone," he said.

"We are depending on the citizens of this city to have good faith and to help us generate a situation whereby there will be a good event and all will feel welcome."

The day will be marked with a carnival procession from city hall at 1300 GMT featuring more than 400 participants from community groups across Belfast.

A concert is also being held at Custom House Square headlined by the chart-topping Bodyrockers.

Entrance to the concert, which begins at 1330 GMT, is free and will be on a strictly first come first served basis.

The bill will also feature traditional Irish and Ulster-Scots performers, as well as other artists reflecting different cultural traditions now living in Belfast, including the Chinese, Indian and Bahai communities.

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