Alliance calls for inclusive St Patrick’s Day carnival

Councillor Naomi Long has said that Alliance will not be supporting a motion calling for funding for a St Patrick’s Day event at today’s special meeting of Belfast City Council.

Cllr Long said that Alliance had met with the carnival committee recently, and it had failed to convince her that the event would be inclusive.

Cllr Long stated: “Alliance is not opposed to a St Patrick’s celebration, but we need to see a maturity from the organisers that is simply not there yet. As with previous years, there hasn’t been a meaningful effort to make the event inclusive.

“To support future St Patrick’s Day celebrations, Alliance would need to see compromise on the display of flags and emblems. The carnival committee has yet to take any real measures to address the obvious chill factor that exists at the moment.

“The decision on this year’s funding has already been taken, and any changes in funding or council policy largely depends on what we see this year. Today’s motion is both counter-productive and premature.

“The way to make progress is not to constantly bring contentious motions to the floor of the council, but to engage with parties in dialogue beforehand. A better way forward would be for the carnival committee to meet with all parties in order to persuade them of their commitment to making the event inclusive.

“That has not happened yet, and having a divisive row will not move things forward. If the organisers believe this event is fully inclusive, why was the requisition for the debate only signed by Sinn Fein councillors? That is not a good indication of the inclusiveness we are seeking and reinforces the perception in some minds that this is a republican event.”

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