St Patrick’s Day report, Part 3…

THE third and final unedited instalment of a confidential report on Belfast’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations continues below…UTV Live: lunchtime report
The lunchtime UTV news report featured a brief (1 min 10 sec) report from City Hall, where crowds were beginning to gather for the procession. It pointed out that this was the first time that BCC had organised the event and that it was intended to be inclusive.

The report highlighted the ban ‘on drink and flags’, but did not specify whether this applied to the entire event or CHS only. Hence instances where flags were in evidence were presented as breaches of the ban. Of eight camera shots of the area around the City Hall, four clearly focused in on Tricolours. The reported stated “But in the last half hour at the city hall, a number of people gathering for the parade to the square have ignored the ban, though they are in the minority”.

The Deputy Lord Mayor was interviewed and asked about these flags. He denied that BCC had any responsibility for or control over flags held by people in the city centre. However on the issue of the inclusiveness of the event at this stage he said:
“People have not been as inclusive as they could be, but having said that, people have to recognise that flags are flags. There are young people running around here with all different colours of flags and the situation is that we want to make it a day to remember for everyone”.

UTV Live: evening report
The second report was slightly longer (2mins 20 sec) and focused mainly on the CHS event, with only one brief shot of the procession. Once more the camera focus was on Tricolours with 7 of 10 shots of the crowd clearly focusing on flags rather than people or performers. The report itself began with the assertion that loyalists had said that their concerns over the event had been borne out and that one councillor reported that it was “the green 12th of previous years”.

The ban on ‘flags and emblems as well as alcohol’ was mentioned and contrasted to the footage of Tricolours in the crowd “it quickly became apparent that many people had simply ignored restrictions”. The reporter was framed against a background of a Lambeg drum playing on stage. Immediately behind, four young boys with Tricolours were ‘playing up’ to the camera. He stated “So much for beating the drum for inclusivity. A Lambeg drum playing amid a sea of Tricolours”

Two unionist councillors were interviewed and presented very negative interpretations of the event. One said that there were so many representations of nationalism and republicanism that unionists would feel uncomfortable coming to the event. Another said that those of her constituents who did attend felt isolated and vulnerable. A crowd member who evidently was from a unionist background was interviewed and also gave a negative reaction to the level of political symbolism.

The interview with the Deputy Lord Mayor broadcast in the earlier report was reused. His comments regarding flags at Belfast City Hall were presented as reflecting his stance on flags at the CHS event.

The report ended by emphasising that the events necessitated a major review of the event which would determine what would happen in future years.

BBC Newsline coverage
This report (2 mins) began by mentioning that BCC was funding this year’s event and that unionists who opposed it thought that the event had ‘failed the cross-community test’. However it did not refer to a ban on political symbols and the camera footage contained proportionately fewer close-ups on individual flags (4 of 15 shots of the crowds).

The report evenly covered both the procession and the CHS event. During footage of the procession the reported noted “Irish Tricolours and football shirts were in the minority as the parade passed along Donegal Place”. Coverage of CHS was accompanied by the statement “the hope was to make this a more cross community event. Nevertheless, the predominant colour in CHS was green, white and gold”

Two members of the audience were interviewed. One thought the event lacked the atmosphere of previous years, the other thought the event was an improvement as it was more enclosed and controlled than in the past.

The Deputy Lord Mayor was interviewed on site, saying “The thing is we live in a free society and we have to get people to move forward one step at a time, you can’t just dictate what people wear. And that’s what we’re trying to do by putting on a cross community event. And we hope that the people who are here enjoy it and go out and spread the word and we will be back here next year enjoying a bigger and better event”

The report ended saying that “in the words of the organisers ‘it’s a start’”

RTE Six One News
The RTE coverage of the event (2mins 10 secs) began by mentioning that the BCC was organising the event in an attempt to make it cross community. It framed the core issue as one of security stating that “so far the celebrations have passed off without incident”.

The report had much less footage of flags and emblems than did the other two (only one close up of a Tricolour) perhaps under-representing the display of political symbols. The issue of symbols was framed in a positive rather than a negative way: “The symbol was the multicoloured shamrock and the flag of St Patrick. The intention was to make it a more inclusive event for all sections of the community”. A shot of a woman and pram with Tricolour was accompanied by the statement “In the end some people still preferred to display Tricolours”.

The Deputy Lord Mayor was interviewed, saying “Belfast is moving forward and it is time that we all, including our political representatives and our people, we all started to realise that we are moving forward and to stop looking back”. The report picks up on this positive tone by emphasising “The concert was intended to show the new face of Belfast, a city made up of different cultures, all of which can be celebrated together”.

The report ended by again promoting security concerns over the issue of symbols: “The council will certainly be pleased that the St Patrick’s Day parade which they sponsored for the first time has passed off without trouble and they’ll be hoping that it provides and example for future years.”

10.3 Analysis of television coverage
These three reports illustrate how the St Patrick’s Day events in the city centre can be presented very differently. Rather than simply assuming that each reporter or station has a particular political bias, we can examine how and why the same evidence can be interpreted differently in each account. Broadly speaking it would appear that because each report takes a different position on the purpose of the event and expectations of what would happen, the evidence is therefore presented to the viewer very differently in each case:

This is most clearly evident in the RTE coverage. This differs from the other two in that it sets up security issues as the main concern of the Council rather than symbol regulation. Therefore, in these terms, the event is clearly a success. Where symbols are mentioned, this is in the context of promoting an inclusive multicultural celebration day and although Tricolours are featured as detracting from the inclusiveness of the day, this is not presented as necessarily undermining the entire event.

In contrast, the UTV Live reports take the ban on symbols as their central focus. It is not made clear whether the ban is to be enforced at the City Hall as well as CHS and so any Tricolours are taken to constitute evidence that the day has failed. This is particularly evident in the first report in which, although Tricolours were relatively scarce at the City Hall, half the camera footage is devoted to singling out those which are present. Likewise in the later report the camera footage and the rhetoric of the reporter give an exaggerated impression of the actual number of flags present as the news story is in essence the significance of the breach of regulations. The equating of the presence of symbols with the failure of the event is supported by interviews with unionist councillors and the Deputy Lord Mayor’s statement (in relation to spectators at the City Hall) that flags could not be controlled. In other words the failure of the ban is taken to be the failure of the day.

The BBC Newsline report adopts a different stance, focusing on the regulation of symbols but evaluating the event on its inclusiveness. Therefore, it highlights both the relative absence of Tricolours in the procession and the evidence of ‘green, white and gold’ at the CHS event. However this is considered in terms of its impact on cross community participation rather than the success or otherwise of symbol regulation for its own sake. Unionists are quoted as having said that it has failed on this account while the Deputy Lord Mayor is shown to argue that it is a progressive move. The report itself adopts an intermediate position of suggesting that it is ‘a start’.

The wider implication of these television reports is that the event is not evaluated afresh by the media, but immediately falls into distinctive patterns of understanding according to the expectations commentators brought to the occasion. In other words, the success or failure of the event depended heavily on the media debate conducted previous to the event itself. As outlined below, this pattern also holds for the print media.

10.4 Newspaper coverage of the St Patrick’s Day event: Symbols
The event received considerable coverage in the main local papers as well as some of the local editions of the tabloid newspapers (Sun, 18th March; Daily Mirror, 18th March). Of the 16 articles we collected on the 18th March, 11 mentioned the symbols dispute as part of their coverage. In line with the television coverage, reports presented the event in one of three main ways according to the position they took on the regulation of symbols – as a ban, as encouragement or as an absence of a ban:

Articles maintaining that the Council had banned symbols pointed out that despite this, there were indeed Tricolours present at the event and as such it was a failure. For example the News Letter (18th March) headline stated Tricolour still prevails despite hopes for a neutral parade and reported: “Tricolours and sectarian symbols had been banned from the event, but while the parade began with little signs of the rules being flouted, their numbers soon grew, as did those of Celtic football shirts”.

Articles presenting the symbols issue as one of advising people to voluntarily leave symbols out of the event, typically reported the presence of political symbols but pointed to the relatively low level of symbolism as a success. Notably two articles in the Irish News, (a paper which had hitherto reported a ‘ban’ on symbols), reformulated this retrospectively to a ‘warning’ (18th March, p5) and stating that “Those attending had been asked not to bring flags or wear football shirts in an attempt to make the event more inclusive” (18th, p4). In line with this view, the Deputy Lord Mayor is reported to have said “It is a small step forward in a divided city. There are a minimal number of Tricolours and Celtic shirts on show but we are living in a free society and we can’t dictate to people what to wear” (Daily Mirror, 18th March).

Another interpretation was published in Daily Ireland where an article depicted the issue of regulation of symbols as irrelevant. Here, the crowd attending the event were described as ‘shamrock-clad’ but there is no reference to Tricolours or football tops or any controversy arising from their presence. Accordingly, a member of the organising committee is quoted as saying that “We had to dispel some rumours going about, such as Tricolours being banned from the event”. In other words the presence of symbols was not presented as a problem.

In sum, the reporting of the event was depicted in different ways according to the different expectations held about the implementation or otherwise of a ‘ban’ on symbols. Articles repeating that there was a ‘ban’ reported that the event had failed. The more moderate mid-ground adopted the language of encouragement and advice and acknowledged that an absence of symbols had not been achieved but presented the much reduced level of flags and emblems as progress. A further perspective which presented the notion of regulation of symbols as misinformation did not present the presence of flags or football shirts as a problem.

10.5 Newspaper Coverage: Inclusiveness
These different types of coverage of the event consequently characterised the inclusiveness of the event in different ways. For those concentrating on the failure of the regulation of symbols, the day was thus taken to be an exclusive republican event. Unionist councillors are reported in a News Letter article (18th March) as saying that the parade was ‘disappointing and unwelcoming’ and had included shows of republican ‘triumphalism’. Moreover, some reported that their unionist constituents who did attend felt uncomfortable and unwelcome and left the event because of the sheer number of Tricolours (Belfast Telegraph, 18th March). In other words the event was characterised as an exclusive single identity event which the BCC failed to regulate and control. Subsequent reports and letters in the following week adopted the same tone.

Ironically, coverage of the event from the contrary perspective adopted the same understanding of the event. As the coverage in Daily Ireland (18th March) reported, one member of the carnival committee commented “It was great to see people wearing shamrock in the city centre and that people can be Irish in the city just like others throughout the country”. Despite the reference to shamrock instead of flags or emblems, this clearly falls into the broader narrative of St Patrick’s Day as an expression of a single identity of Irishness. A later article (North Belfast News, 25th March) went further to argue that flags were deliberately brought to the event as a matter of principle to protest against unequal parity of esteem for Irish symbols. In other words the event was formulated as a matter of resistance to unionist control, much in the same fashion as unionist councillors were stressing control against nationalist resistance.

A minority of reports did attempt to go beyond the rhetoric of identity expression and control and more thoroughly engage with the issue of to what extent the event was cooperatively inclusive. The Irish News reported the Deputy Lord Mayor as saying that the event was very successful and had included some people attending on a cross-community basis (Irish News, 18th March). Likewise the Andersonstown News reported that “The council aimed for a cross-community event and SDLP Deputy Lord Mayor Pat Convery said he thought this had been achieved to a ‘certain degree’”.

This range of perspectives was also reflected in letters to the various newspapers after the event. Some criticised the level of political symbolism as reflecting that nationalists were unwilling to accept unionist participation in the event (“Belfast has more than one culture”, Belfast Telegraph, 20th March; “Green behaviour bodes ill for future”, Belfast Telegraph, 23rd March). Others argued that unionists should not be offended or intimidated by Tricolours or Celtic tops (“Celtic Jersey Did Not Deserve Red Card”, Irish News, 21st March; “Well Done”, Belfast Telegraph, 23rd). A small range of more complex positions were also evident with one reader criticising both the presence of flags and unionist overreaction (“Flagging Fortunes”, Belfast Telegraph, 23rd March) and another, claiming to be a Protestant, stressing the positive atmosphere of the day and criticising the negative publicity the event had received beforehand Belfast Telegraph (“In Praise of the Big Parade”, Belfast Telegraph, 20th March).

The different messages about the event in circulation can be seen to have contributed to very different expectations of what would happen on the day. In turn the media presented a variety of very different interpretations of what had happened.
Three contrasting television reports: RTE, UTV Live and BBC Newsline capture this divergence and highlight the tendency by some coverage to sensationalise the event.
The subsequent coverage and letters from the public returned to the polarised positions preceding the event in which the majority of reports characterised St Patrick’s Day as a single identity phenomenon rather than an inclusive celebration.
A small midground of non-partisan accounts did emphasise the progress that had been made on previous years.

11. Summary of findings

Media (and political) controversy surrounding the event has largely eclipsed BCC’s Good Relations message. While the BCC press release of 5th July was constructive in tone and set out a new understanding of the St Patrick’s Day event as a collaborative cooperation between Council, Carnival Committee and community groups, the press coverage quickly returned to the longstanding depiction of the event as a sectarian power struggle. This was perpetuated by unconstructive press reporting of council discussions as well as overt disagreement between individual councillors and with Carnival Committee members. As a consequence there were widely divergent expectations of what would happen on the day.

Popular opinion about the event beforehand was ambivalent as to whether the event was likely to be inclusive or not. As the political commentary and media coverage of the event was inconsistent and contradictory, it is unsurprising that a variety of attitudes towards the event existed in both main communities in Belfast. Our interviews suggested a degree of uncertainty as to what would actually happen at the event, especially among Protestant community groups and the postal survey indicated a range of expectations within both Protestant and Catholic communities.

The number of political symbols on display at the event was lower than in previous years and low in absolute terms. Our monitoring of the event indicated a low frequency of political symbols relative to previous years’ events. The procession was by and large free of political symbols though a few were carried by casual participants in the local community sections. There were very few in evidence outside City Hall and most that were visible were small plastic flags of the type sold by street-vendors. At CHS we counted 98 Tricolours entering the grounds of an admittance of over 4000 people and only around 20 were visible in the crowd at any one time.

Although briefed to ‘persuade and encourage’ individuals to replace political symbols at CHS stewards were not successful in this task. The task was made difficult by the large number of people arriving at CHS in a short period of time.

The strategy of BCC to introduce alternative symbols in the form of St Patrick’s Carnival Shamrock t-shirts, Cross of St Patrick and multicoloured shamrock flags was a partial success. Community groups did not use the flags although there was widespread use of the t-shirts. The flags however proved popular when handed out at CHS. The few Tricolours that were in evidence at City Hall were possibly as a result of street-vendors in that area.

The atmosphere of the event could not be described as hostile. From our monitoring of the day, the atmosphere during the event was positive and while there were political symbols in evidence, these were mostly displayed by younger teenagers. Onlookers may have had different opinions as to the appropriateness of the symbols at the event, but we noted little evidence that the symbols were displayed in an aggressive or threatening manner or were perceived as such. From the onsite survey, both Catholics and Protestants were generally positive about the event, seeing it as welcoming and as a family day out. However, reactions to the level of political symbols were mixed for both Catholics and Protestants.

There was little evidence of a substantial attendance from Protestant communities. Our interviews before the event indicated that some Protestant community groups were waiting to see how this year’s event would turn out before deciding whether or not to participate in future events. In addition to the absence of Protestant community groups in the procession there was little evidence of large numbers in the audience. Using our onsite survey as a rough indicator, only 31 of 257 (or 12%) surveyed indicated that they were Protestant.

Those attending the event, including those from the Protestant community, generally indicated that they viewed it positively. The majority respondents to our onsite survey thought the event was welcoming and a family day out. This overall positive perception of the event was characteristic of Protestants as well as Catholics.

Protestants did tend to express dissatisfaction with the presence of political symbols and some reported that they felt uncomfortable at the event. Although as noted above, reactions to the level of political symbols was mixed for Catholics as well as Protestants, on average Protestants expressed greater dissatisfaction. Moreover, although 45% of Protestants reported feeling comfortable at the event, 29% reported feeling uncomfortable.

Most media coverage and political commentary afterwards adopted a partisan single-identity position. In line with the media coverage before the event, reports of the day largely focused either on the success or otherwise of the regulation of symbols or on the success of the day as an expression of Irishness. The issue of whether the event had been a step towards a more inclusive event for all communities in Belfast generally came second to these more partisan concerns.

12. Conclusions

This year’s event was not a fully inclusive event, but neither was it an exclusive, intimidating one. This year’s event had no direct participation from Protestant community groups and had a low overall turnout from the Protestant community and so in this sense was not fully inclusive. However given the lower level of political symbols and the positive atmosphere during the event it could not be described as intentionally or aggressively exclusive.

It occurred in a relatively tense political atmosphere in which the Council’s message of inclusiveness was largely ignored. The media coverage of the St Patrick’s Day event has tended to focus on the negative element of the symbols controversy at the expense of the core issue of the potential inclusiveness of the event. In part this is attributable to an element of sensationalism in reports, but the coverage does also mirror opinions from councillors and organisers that have depicted the issue as one of possession and control rather than cooperation and inclusion.

With the short time-frame, there were organisational as well as political difficulties in delivering an inclusive event. As the final decision to fund the event was only made in January, organisers and interested groups were placed under considerable pressure. In addition to the normal logistical difficulties of putting together a large scale public event, time constraints clearly affected the potential of cross community cooperation and inclusion of Protestant groups.

Despite all these factors, the Council would appear to have gone some way towards creating the welcoming environment in which a properly inclusive event could take place in the future. The bulk of evidence in this report points to the interpretation of the event as progressing towards meeting BCC’s stated goal of having “an inclusive event which can be enjoyed by everyone in the city whatever their background”. However, this was only a partial success and this year’s event cannot be considered an acceptable endpoint to the process of making the event inclusive.

More broadly, public opinion does not appear to be as polarised as media and political commentary suggests and some latitude for cooperation between the communities exists. Our surveys and interviews suggest that although the issue of whether St Patrick’s Day should predominantly celebrate Irishness is a divisive one, the occasion does sustain enough interest within both communities to constitute a viable site of cross community celebration.

This year, nationalists have demonstrated a willingness to curb the number of political symbols at the event. Despite the fact that very different messages concerning the regulation of symbols were in circulation, the lower levels of flags and football tops indicate that many nationalists did make some effort to take unionist concerns into consideration.

Likewise Protestant community groups have already demonstrated some willingness to take part within forums such as the Beat Initiative’s steering group. From our interviews with Protestant community groups there is interest and, in principle, a willingness to celebrate St Patrick’s Day among Protestant communities in Belfast. Though there is some apprehension about the main city centre event, there was some engagement by Protestant groups with the Beat Initiative at an early stage and some interest has been expressed in a longer term engagement with a view to future participation.

The message of inclusiveness now needs to be promoted and the Good Relations strategy actively pursued if BCC wishes to take the event forward. It is clear that the message of inclusivity is not getting across to the public. In order to rectify this, a more strategic use of the media and direct engagement with community groups is necessary to promote and deliver an inclusive event next year. In line with A Shared Future this could be done with reference to the importance of ‘shared space’ in the city.

13. Recommendations

Planning Issues

Provide a longer period for planning and preparation. This was the main difficulty mentioned to us by those involved in the organisation of the event. A longer time frame would take pressure off the organisers and also make planning decisions less rushed and more open to negotiation between all parties involved.

Facilitate long-term networking between organisers and participating groups, especially with community groups in Protestant areas. Though this year’s event was a move towards inclusivity, much work still needs to be done to encourage Protestant participation. Various forums for cross community discussion, such as the Beat Initiative’s steering group and the BCC consultation group, need to be sustained throughout the year to foster the trust and interest necessary to make the event properly inclusive next year.

Take advantage of the event occurring at the weekend over the next two years. As St Patrick’s Day is not a public holiday, people will have been prevented from attending the event by having to attend work. As the event falls on a Saturday next year there is room for greater participation. Another barrier to participation was the fact that some children were unable to attend the event as they were at school. The next two years afford the chance of greater participation among the school-aged population.

Push for St Patrick’s Day as a public holiday. There is already broad cross community political support for making St Patrick’s Day a public holiday. This would both give the day further official sanction and facilitate long term participation from groups who would otherwise not be able to attend. Alternatively, the St Patrick’s Day Carnival in Belfast could be held on the nearest Saturday to the 17th March.

Consider courting sponsorship for next year. Sponsorship would alleviate some of the financial burden on the Council and provide a branding and marketing of the event over and above BCC’s or the Carnival Committee’s own appeal.


The symbols debate dominated the press coverage and overshadowed the more important issue of inclusiveness. While the issue of symbols is clearly central to the successful management of St Patrick’s Day, it was presented as one of a sectarian power struggle rather than cross community cooperation. In order to reconstruct the debate in favour of inclusiveness, BCC should actively promote its own message of good relations, and shared space, against other opinions of the event:

BCC should take a clearer position on the event. If the end-goal is to make the event inclusive for all communities, it must be obvious to all taking part that this is a Good Relations project and not a single identity exercise. It needs to be made clear that ‘inclusivity’ does not mean that the unionist community are ‘offered the opportunity’ to attend a nationalist event, but that the council are working towards creating an event that is shared by all in Belfast.

This requires a positive message which promotes inclusiveness rather than a ‘watering down’ of a nationalist event. The crux of the message should be that St Patrick’s Day incorporates all interpretations of the day but in the particular context of Belfast, and a Carnival funded by the City Council, representations of Irishness need to take into consideration unionists’ concerns.

Any regulation of symbols should be accompanied by a clear rationale of ‘shared space’ to prevent misinterpretation as being anti-Irish. The main obstacle to resolving the symbols debate is the perception that symbols are desirable or undesirable for their own sake. By making it clear that the regulation of symbols has a purpose and will facilitate an inclusive event in which all interpretations of St Patrick’s Day are welcome, including an Irish interpretation, people have a positive reason to adhere to the guidelines.

Realistic goals for the inclusiveness of the event need to be agreed beforehand. Establishing clear criteria by which the inclusiveness of the event can be judged would both help prevent conflicting interpretations of the event afterwards and build confidence with wider communities that the event was judged fairly. It is unrealistic to expect a complete absence of political symbols at next year’s event. In terms of the inclusiveness of the event, some measure of participation and attendance from all communities could be established, building on this monitoring report, to assure all involved that the event is indeed working towards an end-goal of a full inclusivity.

Press misinformation should be proactively challenged. Due to negligence or wilful misinterpretation, some press coverage contained factual inaccuracies such as the ‘ban’ on face-paints and green shamrocks. The press should be encouraged to take a more responsible attitude to reporting the Carnival.


There are also a number of practical steps BCC could take in order to address the symbols issue at next year’s event.

Dressing the concert area to give a green and white theme to the entire event would make political symbols less obvious. It is unreasonable to expect a complete absence of Tricolours at future events, but it is possible to make the few which are present less conspicuous by providing a coloured context of green and white.

More, and larger, Council flags should be distributed as a positive highly visible alternative to any political symbols. These could be handed out at City Hall to undercut street sellers. The main source of Tricolours on the day were sold on site rather than brought to the event. By making a free alternative available to onlookers, the demand for these could be much reduced. This year the Council flags were noticeably less visible than the Tricolour equivalents – by making the Council flags larger, their relative visual impact would be increased.

The Council could consider promoting the green shamrock as a positive symbol with appeal to both Catholics and Protestants. This would have the twofold impact providing a green and white colour theme to the entire event as well as undermining media criticism of unnecessary regulation of this neutral symbol. The City Council might consider investing in a logo incorporating ‘Belfast’ and ‘the Shamrock’ to brand the event in the city over a number of years.

BCC should liaise with appropriate sports organisations regarding the use of sports shirts as sectarian symbols. Due to the cold weather it was difficult to accurately assess the numbers of football shirts worn to the event under coats and hence the efficacy of the Council strategy of providing t-shirts. A longer term strategy might be to involve sports organisations, particularly Glasgow Celtic and Rangers Football Clubs, in discussions about the use of their merchandise as sectarian markers at such cross community events and explore means of promoting an anti-sectarian message.


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Patrick’s Day. Routledge: London and New York.
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Order (16th December 1998). London: HMSO.

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Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (2005) A Shared Future.
Belfast: OFMDFM. Appendices

Appendix I: Terms and Conditions of BCC Events

Appendix II: St Patrick’s Day postal questionnaire

Appendix III: St Patrick’s Day onsite survey

Appendix IV: Photographs taken at Belfast St Patrick’s Day 2006
Appendix I: Belfast City Council, Events Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions

• Access to the event will be on a first come first serve basis
• Absolutely no alcohol will be sold, consumed or allowed on site
• Flags, emblems or paraphernalia of a political, sectarian, racist or partisan
nature will not be permitted on site
• No football jerseys
• No glassware, tins, barbeques or naked flames. Umbrellas will be permitted,
but may be restricted in their use
• Once on site you will assume all risk of injury and all responsibility for
property loss, destruction or theft, and releases organisers, performers,
sponsors, venue, and their employees from any liability thereafter.
• Food facilities will be provided
• No dogs except guide dogs
• Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult
• Custom House Square will close on Thursday 16th March from 6pm and reopen
for the concert at 1pm on 17th March.
• The event will happen come rain or shine, please dress appropriately for the
• The event will finish at approximately 4pm
• No bicycles
• No car parking available
• Access terms and conditions will be displayed at the entrance to the site
• Belfast City Council has the right to refuse admission
• If you leave the site you may not be able to re-enter, but this will be at the
discretion of the stewards on the day of the event
• Before entering the site you may be subject to a search, as appropriate
• Belfast City Council reserves the right to make any alterations to the
advertised details for the performance
• All attendees consent to the filming and sound recording of themselves as
members of the audience
• Smoke effects, strobe lighting, lasers and loud noises may be used at this event
This information was correct at the time of going to print; Belfast City Council
does not accept responsibility for any omissions or changes to the information
Appendix II: St Patrick’s Day Questionnaire (postal version)
We are interested in your experiences of St Patrick’s Day in the past and what you expect from this year’s event. Please read the questions carefully and tick the box you think best fits your own experiences and beliefs.

1. Have you attended the St Patrick’s Day event in Belfast city centre before? Yes c No c

2. Do you intend to go to the St Patrick’s Day event this year? Yes c No c

3. What do you think St Patrick’s Day should celebrate?

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland? c c c c c
St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland? c c c c c
Irishness? c c c c c
All religions and traditions on the island of Ireland? c c c c c

Other (please specify) ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ ­___________________________________________________________

4. Do you think that St Patrick’s Day in Belfast in previous years:

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
Has been welcoming to everyone? c c c c c
Has had all communities in Belfast taking part? c c c c c
Has had too many symbols that could be seen as political? c c c c c
Has been a family day out? c c c c c

5. Do you think that this year’s event:

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
Will be welcoming to everyone? c c c c c
Will have all communities in Belfast taking part? c c c c c
Will have too many symbols that could be seen as political? c c c c c
Will be a family day out? c c c c c

6. If YOU were to go to this year’s event, how do you think you would feel?

Very comfortable Quite comfortable Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable Quite uncomfortable Very uncomfortable
c c c c c

7. How do you think the following groups would feel at the event?

Very comfortable Quite comfortable Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable Quite uncomfortable Very uncomfortable
Nationalists c c c c c
Unionists c c c c c
Ethnic minorities c c c c c

Some details about yourself:

Age: Sex: Male c Female c

Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion? Yes c No c

How would you describe that religious tradition? Protestant c Catholic c Other c

What do you consider your nationality to be ­­­________________________(write in).

Strongly Weakly Not at all
How strongly do you feel yourself to be British c c c
How strongly do you feel yourself to be Irish c c c
How strongly do you feel yourself to have an Ulster identity c c c
How strongly do you feel yourself to be Northern Irish c c c

Thank you for completing our questionnaire!
Please post it back to us in the enclosed freepost envelope.
Appendix III: St Patrick’s Day Questionnaire (onsite version)

Our team of researchers at Queen’s University is conducting a survey of how people see this year’s St Patrick’s Day event in the city centre. We would be very grateful if you would take a few minutes to fill out our questionnaire. Your answers will be anonymous and confidential. Please read the questions carefully and tick the box you think best fits your own experiences and beliefs.

1. Have you attended the St Patrick’s Day event in Belfast city centre before? Yes c No c

2. What do you think St Patrick’s Day should celebrate?

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland? c c c c c
St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland? c c c c c
Irishness? c c c c c
All religions and traditions on the island of Ireland? c c c c c

Other (please specify) ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ ­___________________________________________________________

3. Do you think that St Patrick’s Day in Belfast in previous years:

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
Has been welcoming to everyone? c c c c c
Has had all communities in Belfast taking part? c c c c c
Has had too many symbols that could be seen as political? c c c c c
Has been a family day out? c c c c c

4. Do you think that this year’s event:

Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree
Is welcoming to everyone? c c c c c
Has all communities in Belfast taking part? c c c c c
Has too many symbols that could be seen as political? c c c c c
Is a family day out? c c c c c

6. How do you feel about being at this event?

Very comfortable Quite comfortable Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable Quite uncomfortable Very uncomfortable
c c c c c

7. How do you think the following groups feel at the event?

Very comfortable Quite comfortable Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable Quite uncomfortable Very uncomfortable
Nationalists c c c c c
Unionists c c c c c
Ethnic minorities c c c c c

Some details about yourself:

Age: Sex: Male c Female c

Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion? Yes c No c

How would you describe that religious tradition? Protestant c Catholic c Other c

What do you consider your nationality to be ­­­________________________(write in).

Strongly Weakly Not at all
How strongly do you feel yourself to be Irish c c c
How strongly do you feel yourself to be British c c c
How strongly do you feel yourself to have an Ulster identity c c c
How strongly do you feel yourself to be Northern Irish c c c

Thank you for completing our questionnaire.
Have a great St Patrick’s Day!
Appendix IV: Photographs of the event

Categories Uncategorised

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