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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 18:05 GMT
City's culture bid to cost almost 150m
Belfast's bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2008 could cost almost 150m, according to the Northern Ireland Culture Minister Michael McGimpsey.

Mr McGimpsey told assembly members on Tuesday that some of the 147.5m needed could come from the private sector or the European Structural Fund.

However, he estimated that the Northern Ireland Executive might have to provide around 100m.

The minister said he hoped that the Belfast's 23 peace walls would one day be no longer needed, to reflect one of the themes of the bid which is Life Without Walls.

They must be seen by local residents not to have a purpose

Michael McGimpsey Culture minister

The Ulster Unionist minister said there would be three broad themes to the bid.

Made in Belfast will celebrate the best of local cultural and creative expression, while Through the Eyes of a Child, will focus on children and includes developing C.S. Lewis's home in east Belfast into a special centre inspired by the writer's "Chronicles of Narnia".

However, the Ulster Unionist minister said the notion of removing the walls was "aspirational" and the walls will remain whilst the people living in frontline areas continue to believe they need them.

"People feel safer having them, but they are essentially negative measures," he said.

"They cut across and destroy the urban fabric they reinforce a culture of separation.

"They must eventually come down.

"But first they must be seen by local residents not to have a purpose."

NI Culture minister Michael McGimpsey:
"People feel safer having the peace walls, but they are essentially negative measures"
See also:

16 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
Poet backs bid for culture title
25 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Belfast's culture bid under way
17 Jan 98 | Europe
City of culture but no snow
08 May 01 | Wales
City's culture bid under attack
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