The DUP’s Six-County ‘Minister for Culture’ Nelson McCausland has insisted an annual arts festival held in south central Belfast include pro-Israeli views and Christian music in its line-up, according to a BBC report.
McCausland’s requirements were sent in an email to the director of the Belfast Festival, a government-funded high-brow arts programme held every year in October or November.
Mr McCausland said he wanted “a view sympathetic to Israel in any relevant talk or debate” and also said he would like “some southern gospel music” included.
The SDLP’s Declan O’Loan branded his actions an “abuse of his function”.
Mr O’Loan said: “It is absolutely wrong for a minister to try directly to influence the content of an arts festival - especially by proposing content that has a political character, as the reference to Israel clearly has.”
Responding to a the reports, McCausland said his demands were made because he thought “every reasonable person” would agree with his point that “there should be balance and inclusivity”.
He added: “We don’t want to have exclusion, we don’t want to have discrimination - we want fairness.”
Meanwhile, ‘peace funds’ spent on a cultural trip to Poland for former loyalist paramilitaries have been spent on stag-weekend-like splurges in Krakow’s red-light district, it was reported.
The scheme, called Thin End of the Wedge, paid for former gang members to travel to Poland in an attempt to reduce racism following an outbreak of violence at a soccer match.
‘Transition Training’, the company that facilitated the project, was in receipt of a substantial European grants to run 12-week courses that included ‘study visits’ to Poland.
According to the Irish News, the one million pound project has now been shut down amid allegations of financial impropriety.