In a message posted on the Galway Pride Festival website today, chairman Bruce Henry explained the decision to cancel the festival, conceding that Galway’s LGBT+ community “is not best served by having 2 competing pride celebrations.”
The conflict between Galway’s rival Pride organisations has been ongoing following disagreements over the running of last year’s festival.
After expressing dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the 2016 festival’s organisation (including alleged financial impropriety), several committee members voted to form a separate Pride venture: Galway Community Pride, which was eventually led by Rob Partridge, a distinct and separate event from Galway Pride Festival, which was headed by 2016 festival chairman, Bruce Henry.
In a statement on the Galway Pride Festival (GPF) website today, Henry writes: “It is with sadness that we announce the cancellation of Galway Pride Festival 2017.
“This decision was not taken lightly and we sincerely apologise to anyone that is inconvenienced. Ultimately, the community is not best served by having 2 competing pride celebrations.
“Additionally, going ahead with this year’s festival is no longer an option while personal attacks continue to be levelled against us and our sponsors.”
The rest of the statement responds to rumours regarding an outstanding legal issue which embroiled last year’s committee, and the matter of “personal attacks” including death threats, bullying, harassment and “allegations of theft”.
Much of the fighting between the two rival Pride groups centred on allegations of financial mismanagement, and it was this that ultimately led to the instigation of legal proceedings.
Galway Community Pride responded to the statement by Galway Pride Festival in a piece published on social journalism website, Medium.
“I am not too interested in delving into too much ‘he said/she said’ nonsense,” writes a members of the Galway Community Pride group named Sharon, “but instead I want to assure you that Galway Community Pride is very much happening.
“The organisers of Galway Community Pride have been planning for months. They have been promoting the events, fundraising, and doing everything they can to make Galway Community Pride possible.”
Meanwhile, the final paragraph of Galway Pride Festival’s statement urges the city’s LGBT+ community to “take a stand against trolling and online abuse” such as Henry and co-chair Eugene Burke claimed to have experienced.
“Trolling is not activism. It is not brave and it is not smart. It is abuse and it goes against everything that Pride stands for; inclusivity and support. If we as a community don’t collectively take a stand against trolling and online abuse, it threatens the safety and mental well-being of everyone, from our most vulnerable to our strongest community members.”
The statement ends with a request for LGBT+s to “be safe and be true to yourself. Most importantly however, be kind.”
Galway Community Pride responded to our requests for a statement with the following:
“We the committee of Galway Community Pride would like to express our most sincere gratitude for the overwhelming support we have received on and offline with regards the public statement made by Galway Pride Festival CLG last night (August 2),” said committee member Colin Whelan on behalf of the committee via email.
“Although there are some stark discrepancies between our own recording of events and Galway Pride Festival CLG’s, it would not be constructive or in the spirit of Pride to engage in any back and forth on what happened.”
“We would like to reassure people that Galway Pride 2017 is without question going ahead this year. The dates for Galway Pride 2017 is 7– 13 August, less than a week away. We would like to also apologise to anyone who feel that they have been mislead with regards the dates for this year’s pride.”
Galway Community Pride also urged those who had made plans to attend Galway Pride Festival to consider joining the festivities from August 7-13.
“We hope that everyone who had arrangements for Galway Pride Festival CLG’s dates 11– 20 August which have now been cancelled will be able to join us from the 7 – 13 to celebrate what promises to be an incredible week packed with events to attend.
“You can visit our Facebook page, Galway Community Pride if you haven’t seen it already to see what fundraisers we’ve put on throughout the year, which fundraisers are yet to come and see all the events we have in store for the community for Galway Pride 2017.”
© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.