High Court decision welcomed
Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Browne has welcomed the decision to grant the city's St. Patrick's Day Carnival Committee leave to apply for a judicial review challenging Belfast City Council's decision not to fund the parade. The judicial review had been sought by Caitríona Ruane, chairperson of the Carnival Committee, and was granted by Judge Kerr at a hearing at Belfast's High Court on Wednesday 1 March.
The council had endorsed DUP Councillor Sammy Wilson's motion opposing funding for the carnival on the grounds that ``no self respecting Protestant would go to a parade led by gunmen and gun runners''.
Welcoming the decision, Ruane described it as ``a pity'' that the issue had to be taken to the courts rather than being resolved directly with the council. ``They left us no other option,'' she said.
Ironically, councillors at Belfast City Hall are deciding as we go to print whether the council should accept an invitation to attend St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington. Unionist and Alliance Party members of the council's policy and resources committee have already recommended that the council should be represented at the Washington event by Belfast's Lord Mayor, UUP councillor Bob Stoker.
In spite of the presence of 80,000 participants at last year's St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast, the council has blocked funding for any similar event this year,'' points out Michael Browne. ``What we are left with is a situation whereby the council is denying the people of Belfast the opportunity to publicly celebrate St. Patrick's Day while ensuring that the Lord Mayor partakes of the celebrations on offer in the USA.''