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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Michael Kenwood

Belfast Council to spend £72,000 on July Twelfth beacons this summer

Belfast Council is to spend at least £72,000 this year on 12 beacons for the July Twelfth celebrations.

Minutes from the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee dating from April 21st reveal the council fund for beacons going to community/voluntary groups.

The council item on the fund was initially heard in private away from the public and press in April, and at the May monthly meeting of the full Belfast City Council, the last meeting before the May 18 local elections, elected representatives green-lighted the published minutes, thereby ratifying approval for the funding.

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The council Director of Neighbourhood Services submitted a report during the committee meeting in April providing an update on the provision of beacons for 2023, as an alternative to traditional bonfires over the 12th of July period. The report has not been made public.

The minutes of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee state: “(The director) explained that the programme, which was open only to constituted community/voluntary groups, had been in existence for over fifteen years and that it had, in 2019, been extended to provide sixteen groups with a beacon.

“However, in 2022, due to ongoing issues associated with the pandemic, only eight had been allocated. He went on to recommend to the committee that officers contact those eight groups to determine if they wished to avail of a beacon in 2023, as well as four others which had expressed an interest.

“That would bring to twelve the number of beacons to be allocated, should all groups accept and conditions be met. He recommended also that, should any of those groups decide not to avail of a beacon, it be allocated on a first come first served basis where members or constituted groups had expressed an interest.”

The current budget allocation for the Beacon Programme is £72,000, which is meant to include a contribution of £15,000 from the Executive Office, through its District Council Good Relations Programme.

The council minutes from the S,P and R committee state: “However, as no Executive budget was in place in 2023/24 for the programme, its contribution could not be guaranteed at this stage. (The director) explained that, in a scenario in which twelve beacons were required and the Executive Office’s contribution was not forthcoming, the council would be required to provide additional funding of between £20k and £25k through the alignment of existing budgets.”


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