PSNI are investigating after councillors at Newry Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) voted to suspend a portion of a £125,000 grant for the UK and Ireland Pride festival due to take place in Newry in the coming weeks.
An official from NMDDC told councillors that they would not be releasing any further funding “due to a number of governance-related concerns”.
Festival organisers have reacted to the decision asking that the council specify its concerns for five weeks without clarification.
Newry is the hosts of UK & Ireland Pride which is a 10-day event planned to start on August 22.
50,000 visitors are expected from all over the world and the musical acts booked include B*Witched, Heather Smalls and Claire Richards of Steps fame.
A spokesman for NMDDC said that during a closed session this week, councillors voted to freeze outstanding funding, reported to be £65,000.
“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 that the council would not be in a position to release any further funding and no further information can be provided at this time,” he said. “A further update will be brought to committee when available.
The PSNI confirmed that it is now involved. “Police have received a report in relation to an organisation based in Newry and this report is being further considered,” it said.
The UK & Ireland Pride committee responded saying the NMDDC is using allegations to block their funding. They confirmed that they are taking legal advice and added that the festival is “proceeding as planned”.
The committee said it wrote “in robust terms and invited facts and evidence” but that NMDDC has not yet provided “any evidence or facts on its claims to allow us to understand, to take advice and to respond with our position”.
Once the committee has been provided with evidence, it will provide its full response.
“The committee emphatically denies any unsubstantiated governance issues as alleged and notes that NMDDC has made no effort at all to engage with the committee for several months.”
It added: “In the meantime and for the avoidance of doubt, the international festival is going ahead.”
NMDDC has not responded to requests for clarification of their allegations.
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