Fleadh Cheoil could bring huge benefits to Armagh

At the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council meeting on 28 October, Alliance representatives voted in favour of a proposal that council should explore hosting the Fleadh Cheoil in Armagh City.

Speaking after the vote Alliance Lurgan Councillor Peter Lavery said: “There is a rich culture, arts and heritage scene within our borough with many people from all backgrounds coming together to share their love for music, drama and history.

“The festival would bring thousands of visitors to the borough and have a substantial positive economic benefit to local businesses. It will also be an opportunity to enhance and celebrate our shared cultural heritage.

“Unfortunately we witnessed a divisive debate in Council on this proposal. It’s high time parties moved beyond this worn, orange and green tit-for-tat in the Council chamber over cultural events. We saw it from Sinn Féin and the SDLP last month, and we witnessed it again from the DUP over Fleadh Cheoil this month.

“We are one community with a rich and diverse culture – and all identities and cultural expressions deserve to be recognised and celebrated. Yet, certain parties choose to politicise cultural events and weaponise them in a bid to divide our community.

“We have this bizarre situation on ABC Council whereby if an event is perceived to pertain to another section of the community, certain parties will vote against. That is not the metric we should be employing when deciding whether or not to host events – we should be considering the value to our citizens, our local businesses and our shared heritage.”