Belfast City Council: “what happened on Saturday evening is a clear breach of our terms and conditions of hire.”

The News Letter has an updated comment from the spokeswoman for Belfast City Council about the (Provisional) IRA commemoration at Whiterock Leisure Centre on Saturday night.  From the News Letter report

Belfast City Council says a republican event in one of its leisure centres was clearly in breach of terms and conditions, after critics objected to use of a Sinn Fein banner, replica weapons and paramilitary flags.

The event, in Whiterock Leisure Centre on Saturday, was strongly condemned yesterday by the Alliance Party, SDLP and DUP.

Questions were originally raised on Sunday by TUV leader Jim Allister and Belfast City Council said yesterday his concerns were indeed justified.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: “This booking was not made by a political party, however what happened on Saturday evening is a clear breach of our terms and conditions of hire. 

“Council is currently investigating this and a report will be brought back to the next meeting of the Parks and Leisure Committee on April 10.” [added emphasis]

And Sinn Féin, who previously declined to comment, have now found their voice

…Sinn Fein defended the event, describing it as “a respectful commemoration held in the heart of west Belfast involving a community that has suffered disproportionately as a result of the conflict”.

That will be why, when it was being booked, Belfast City Council were told that the centre was being hired by Cumann Spoirt an Phobail for “a community celebration event in the fields of sport, culture and development”.  As the previous comment by the spokeswoman for Belfast City Council stated

Last night a spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: “The council’s Parks and Leisure Committee agreed to allow the use of Whiterock Leisure Centre by Cumann Spoirt an Phobail for a community celebration event in the fields of sport, culture and development.

“This included a bar and a normal booking fee was charged. Any complaint of inappropriate use would have to be investigated.”

But, as I pointed out in the previous comment zone, some people clearly knew this was not true.

As, one of many parties who have raised concerns, the Alliance Party MLA Stewart Dickson notes

“Sinn Fein have serious questions to answer about the organisation of this event. It appears that they did not inform the Council of what this event would actually include. In Council papers, they indicated that it would be a community celebration event and include presentations to local people who have worked in the fields of sport, culture and development.”

[As open and transparent as possible… – Ed]  Indeed.

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