Northern Ireland

Finaghy Cultural Festival faces council review after ‘Blood and Thunder’ music and band parade allegations

Festival was first held in 2021 at Wedderburn Park

Wedderburn Park in south Belfast's Finaghy area.
Wedderburn Park in south Belfast's Finaghy area.

The hosting of a festival at public park is to be reviewed by Belfast City Council after allegations that the event was previously politically motivated.

Organisers of the Finaghy Cultural Festival have requested council permission to host the event at Wedderburn Park in the Finaghy Road South area on August 16.

However, SDLP Balmoral councillor Donal Lyons successfully proposed a review on whether the council should permit the use of the park, in order to seek “comfort and clarification” on the nature of the event.

He told Monday evening’s monthly full council meeting: “In the report it says this event has taken place over the last couple of years without issues. That is not true. I have raised a number of issues over a number of years about this event.

“There are more than the usual issues when you have people drinking and carrying on, or the playing of what I believe is called ‘Blood and Thunder’ music till 8 o’clock at night. Or the accompanying band parade which marches through Finaghy Road South.”

He added of the council: “We don’t actually know what this event really is. And it goes back to previous years when we have agreed to the facilitation and to some extent the funding for a cultural event, but then it has been advertised in a very different and a political way subsequently in the community.”

However, DUP councillor Sarah Bunting said the proposal was “electioneering”.

“This event has taken place twice now. There have been no issues. There was one complaint in the first year, which was about one person who had nothing to do with the event,” she said.

“Council officers have received all paperwork when requested, and everything requested by this council in order to hold this event in this park has been received on time. Council officers have visited this event.

“To (mention) a band parade which has nothing to do with this event, which happens every year regardless of whether this event takes place or not, is obviously just trying to score points.”

A council report states the festival is “organised by a small group of local people from the community, who started out through the first lockdown back in March 2020 as a food bank helping the elderly and vulnerable through very difficult times.

A proposal to review the event at the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on April 19 passed with 39 votes in favour and 14 against.