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Newry, Mourne and Down Council will not be releasing any further funding to Newry Rainbow Community for the UK and Ireland Pride event at the end of this month citing "governance" concerns. Despite this organisers have said the festival is going ahead as planned.

The organisers have to date received £60K of the £125K awarded by the council for the festival.

At last nights monthly council meeting in Downpatrick the funding issue was discussed 'in committee' with members of the public and press excluded. When discussion ended incoming Chief Executive Marie Ward made a short statement explaining the council's position. It follows a meeting between Newry Rainbow Community and council officials in early July.

The 2018 Pride in Newry concert. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
The 2018 Pride in Newry concert. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Ms Ward said while in closed session "Councillors were briefed regarding the funding for Newry Pride event and were advised that due to a number of governance related concerns the matter remains under investigation and the council would not be in a position to release any further funding"

The incoming Chief Executive added "No further information can be provided at this time. A further update will be brought to committee when available"

The NRC host Pride in Newry in the city each year and this year are hosting UK and Ireland Pride for the first time.

An NRC spokesperson in a statement said "The international festival is going ahead as planned. A full Pride Guide has been published with thousands of copies already distributed throughout the area.

"The international festival will commence on 22 August 2019 through to the parade, free open air concert and fireworks display on 31 August."

The spokesperson added "We are grateful to our many sponsors including Newry, Mourne & Down District Council. We are aware of a statement from Newry, Mourne & Down District Council however we have not been provided with any facts or evidence. Once we are provided with facts and evidence we will be in a position to comment."

Thousands are expected to attend the main event on 31 August beginning with the Pride Parade and followed by a Pride Concert.

B*Witched, Heather Small, Saara Aalto and Claire Richards are all on the bill to perform at the Pride concert at Albert Basin.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council Enterprise Regeneration and Tourism Committee awarded Newry Rainbow Community £60K in December 2018 and £50K in February 2019 and they also received an offer of £15K in the councils annual Tourism Event funding.

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