Northern Ireland news

Santa laughs off a 'minor hiccup' on festive tour of west Belfast after sleigh stopped by police

Santa visiting the Lower Falls area of west Belfast last night after being pulled over by the police on Monday. Picture by Mal McCann

SANTA Claus last night laughed off a "minor hiccup" on his festive tour of west Belfast after his sleigh was stopped by police.

Officers questioned Father Christmas after a report was made to police that he was travelling with no lights.

The Falls Residents Partnership Initiative's Santa sleigh tour had been touring the Hamill Street area to deliver gifts to children when the sleigh, which was being pulled by a horse, was stopped by police on Monday night.

The tour was halted for a time while the safety issues were addressed.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "At around 5.45pm on Monday night officers responded to a report from a member of the public regarding a concern for safety of a pony and trap with no lights.

"Police attended and issued advice and guidance regarding the highway code and were content that the event was properly marshalled.

"The event was not stopped and was allowed to continue."

Robert McClenaghan, who is involved in the initiative, said it was "quickly sorted and Santa was back on his travels".

"It was a minor hiccup over lights on the horse," he said.

"We were stopped at the Hamill Street and Institution Place junction after a complaint had been received by police about an animal on a public highway.

"The policeman went over the regulations with us and said we had to have a white light at the front and a red light at the back.

"It was all quickly remedied.

"The Community Safety team who are involved in this got it sorted and we continued on the route."

The tour is part of the Falls Partnership Initiative to see that children in the local area receive a gift this Christmas.

The Falls Resident's Association, Divis Youth Project, Frank Gillen Centre, Saint Peters Immaculata Youth club, Grosvenor Recreation Centre, Communities in Transition and the Clan Mor Sure Start programme are all involved in the project.

Last week they visited schools in the area and delivered almost 1,000 gifts to children.

"We went to the schools last week and left 997 selection boxes for the kids," said Mr McClenaghan.

"We delivered another 300 on Monday night and we have Tuesday and Wednesday still to go.

"It’s been a tough year for everyone, we're just trying to keep everyone's spirits and morale up."

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