Concerns have been raised that Christian groups are being excluded from Larne town centre, in the wake of the BBC’s True North programme.
Alderman Winston Fulton told fellow elected members that he was “very disturbed” by a comment made at a recent meeting of Larne Traders’ Forum; it is understood that one trader spoke about “keeping Bible bashers out” of the town centre.
Back in October, BBC NI broadcast a documentary entitled’ I Love Larne’, as part of its True North series.
The programme was lambasted by local people and political representatives, who described it as “cringeworthy” and “misleading”.
One of the main bones of contention for many critics was the show’s heavy focus on religious groups and individuals in the town.
At the latest meeting of the council’s development committee, Ald Fulton said he was concerned that Christian organisations were being asked to keep out of the town.
And he sought assurance from chief executive Geraldine McGahey that these groups had “as much right to be in the town centre as anyone else”.
Councillor Roy Craig, who had also been present at the Forum meeting, said the remark was “the opinion of one trader, who was entitled to their opinion”, although he did not agree with it.
Mrs McGahey said the council’s message had always been that “Larne was there for everybody, not exclusive for one group or restrictive for other groups”.
She added that the views of one individual were not the views of the council and would not be the message coming from any officer.
Ald Fulton asked if the chief executive could write to Larne Traders’ Forum to explain the council’s view.
However, Mrs McGahey replied that she would rather get a report from the town development officer and have a conversation with her regarding the comments made.
She would also seek to reinforce the message through the forum that Larne town centre is for everyone.