Belfast Council has agreed a spend of £25,000 of public funds for Coronation celebrations in the city later this Spring.
At the recent meeting of the Belfast City Council Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, elected representatives pushed through the spend, with only People Before Profit objecting to the proposal outright. The SDLP proposed the council only part funding the £25K.
The committee report disclosed details of the proposed programme of events marking the Coronation of HM the King and HM the Queen Consort over the bank holiday weekend of Saturday 6th May to Monday 8th May 2023.
Read more: Belfast Council £280,000 advertising budget questioned by councillor
For Saturday 6th May, the Coronation Service, the report states: “It is proposed to erect a large screen on the west lawn in the grounds of the City Hall to provide a public space for those who wish to view the Coronation service and ceremonial processions.
“In keeping with the community theme of bringing people together, a marquee will be placed on the east lawn to provide family activities through a programme of animation such as craft making and a photo-booth.”
Regarding the Coronation "Big Lunch" on Sunday 7th May, the report states: “It is proposed to host a Coronation Big Lunch at City Hall, to primarily acknowledge the role of volunteering across Belfast, which will also reflect other themes of community and diversity.
“This community lunch would be informal in nature to provide a platform for local people to come together, whilst encouraging communities in the city who wish to join in by holding events across Belfast.”
And lastly for Monday 8th May, given over to “the Big Help Out,” the report states: “Given the theme of this day, to highlight the positive impact volunteering has across communities, it is not proposed to hold any events at City Hall. Rather, it will provide the opportunity for civic dignitaries and councillors more generally to visit local areas to volunteer or see volunteering in action.”
DUP Alderman George Dorrian said he was “very happy with the report.” He added: “One thing that is missing, and that we would propose, is to ask if the date is available for the City Hall to be lit. It would cost nothing extra, and would be a small addition.” The proposal was agreed.
People Before Profit Councillor Fiona Ferguson proposed not to go ahead with the funding. She said: “We made the same argument around the time of the jubilee, but it is even more pressing now, given everything this council talks about in terms of savings, and where ratepayers are at.
“It isn’t just this is a spend we don’t think is necessary, it’s that the event are to celebrate a king who sits on vast amounts of wealth.”
She added: “I don’t think the incoming royals share any interests with the communities here, who are suffering even more now given the rates hikes. And we know the cost of living crisis isn’t going anywhere soon.” The proposal wasn’t seconded, and therefore fell.
Sinn Féin Councillor Ciaran Beattie said: “We could come in and complain about due process not being followed, we could complain about no direction coming from the (UK) Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, or the Northern Ireland Office, and ask where this has originated from, and why it is being treated like this, without transparent process. But we are not.
“We could also use the excuse that this money could be better spent, with employment opportunities, similar to what was proposed with the Irish street signs. But we’re not.
“We recognise there are people in the city that do hold the monarchy in high value, so this time, we will be supporting this, to show that whatever the constitutional position of this island, we will always defend people’s culture, and people’s right to celebrate their culture.”
Major Ballymurphy social housing development gets green light
Belfast Council votes against new student block after locals appeal
Stormont asking Belfast Council to “animate” Writer’s Square with street trading sites
Belfast Council asking Stormont why University Road footpath to be 'abandoned'
Belfast St Patrick's Day "turning into St Patrick's Week", Councillor says
For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here. To sign up to our FREE newsletters, see here.