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Pub plans to close Belfast street for nine hours for Pride party

Maverick and Boombox plan to hold a 'block party' on Saturday to coincide with the Belfast Pride Festival. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

THE PSNI has said it does not support a pub's plans to close a Belfast city centre road for nine hours for a street party.

Maverick bar is planning to hold a 'block party' on Saturday to coincide with the Belfast Pride Festival.

It will involve a "crowd management company" closing Donegall Street from North Queen Street to Royal Avenue to general traffic.

The PSNI has declined to say whether officers will keep the road open, despite the event not having the necessary statutory permission.

In a letter to traders on the street, organisers said: "This event is supported by Belfast City Council, the Department for Social Development, PSNI and a range of local businesses.

"Between the hours of 2pm-11pm traffic movement on Donegall Street will be restricted and diversions will be in place.

"All residents and business operators will still have full access with 'through traffic' being diverted."

However, the public bodies have distanced themselves from the plans, which involve setting up an outdoor stage.

PSNI chief inspector Robert Murdie said: "The event organisers approached police in relation to a proposal to close Donegall Street for an outdoor concert on Saturday.

"Police advised the event organisers of the significant legislative and event planning requirements, including authorisations and support from other key statutory organisations, which have yet to be addressed by the event organisers.

"While this event is not supported by the PSNI, we are happy to work with and provide advice and guidance to event organisers."

PSNI chief inspector Robert Murdie

On Monday night the PSNI did not say whether they would prevent the road being sealed off.

A Belfast council spokesman said it is not funding the event on Donegall Street, where the The Irish News is also situated.

"Road closures are a matter for the PSNI. The event does not require an entertainments licence, as it is being held on the public highway," he said.

A spokeswoman at the Department for Communities, which has replaced the Department for Social Development, said it is "not involved with the Maverick/Boombox block party".

A Belfast Pride Festival spokesman said the event is not organised by the official pride festival.

It is understood the letter sent to businesses was based on a template used for a Pride event some years earlier.

Maverick and Boombox manager Mark Hassan said on Monday that they planned to meet with police today "for final sign-off" on the plans.

He said diversions were for "public safety" and a "crowd management company" will be diverting traffic.

Mr Hassan insisted that he had secured permission from "everyone" and said the road between Royal Avenue and Carrick Hill was not being completely closed.

"Closing a road is that people can't get access, you can't walk down it, you can't drive down it," he said.

"We're doing restricted access – businesses can get down, people can walk on foot straight through."

A Translink spokeswoman said: "We will work with event organisers to facilitate Pride events in Belfast city centre this Saturday, in conjunction with the PSNI. This would be in line with normal event planning requirements."

The 26th Belfast Pride Festival runs until Sunday, with Pride Day on Saturday and the annual parade setting off at 1pm.

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