Irish Festival chief slams council’s ‘lack of diversity’

Irish festival at the Piece Hall, Halifax'Pictured are Helen Lacey and Anna Vaughan
Irish festival at the Piece Hall, Halifax'Pictured are Helen Lacey and Anna Vaughan

The organiser of one of Calderdale’s biggest events has slammed the council for failing to support community cohesion.

Peter Timmons, secretary of the Halifax Irish Festival, said he would have to seriously re-think the format of the festival for next year after a disappointing turn out this time. Several hundred people attended the event at the Piece Hall last weekend.

They were treated to live music from a host of bands including Giants Causeway, Across The Water, Nicky James Band and Belt of Celts, as well as dancing from the Cassidy Irish Dancers and the Jodie Kennedy Irish Dancers.

There was also a range of stalls, fairground rides, as well as hot and cold food and a beer tent.

Peter said that lack of support from the council coupled with bad weather had resulted in a below par display.

“Numbers were down on last year and with the expectation of rain that is likely to be the case, although if you can’t arrange an event in July to avoid rain I don’t know which month you can,” he said.

“It’s time for a re-think about what we do. I’m not sure whether we should be doing it at all because things get more costly.

“We don’t get any help from Calderdale Council and we pay for everything. You name it and we have to pay for it.

“The community spirit in Calderdale where people used to work together is gone.

“Despite what the council say about diversity there’s no such thing.

“People say stuff but they’re not seen to be carrying it out.

“When we started in 1991 the council used to put money in to the festival and take money out but that no longer exists.

“Really the council is renting a piece of space and it is ruining community cohesion.”

As well as the event at the Piece Hall, the Irish Society held a Festival Luncheon Club at the Halifax Irish Centre on the previous Thursday, which was packed out, followed by a country band night on the Friday.

Then on Saturday night they held a Gala Dinner Dance at the Cedar Court Hotel.

“It was a great night at Cedar Court, everything was top notch,” Peter added.

But Calderdale Council have hit back at the claims made by 
Mr Timmons, saying that community spirit is far from gone.
Calderdale Council’s Director of Communities Robin Tuddenham, pictured above right, said: “The Council is sorry Mr Timmons felt the Irish festival didn’t go so well.
“The Council publicised this event in a variety of ways, including: in What’s On magazine, the Council website, area newsletters and the Piece Hall brochure, and it was covered in the local press. 
Other recent festivals have been highly successful and popular, and we hope the Irish Festival will continue in years to come. 
“The Council would certainly take issue with Mr Timmons’ comments that “community spirit is gone”, noting in particular the magnificent response of communities in the Calder Valley who have worked together to get businesses and households back up and running following the recent flooding.
 “Calderdale is a diverse and cohesive place and we have seen how community spirit is very much alive in challenging times recently,” he said.