Methodist centre ‘apologises for last-minute bar on Ukip’

Steven Woolfe MEP, Ukip along with David McNarry MLA, at  the Skainos Centre last month, ask why Ukip have been barred from holding a meeting there
Steven Woolfe MEP, Ukip along with David McNarry MLA, at the Skainos Centre last month, ask why Ukip have been barred from holding a meeting there

A major centre connected to the Methodist Church has apologised to Ukip for barring it from using the premises, the party has said.

The Skainos Centre in east Belfast had been due to host a Ukip public meeting last month, with the party paying to hire a section of the building.

But the £23 million centre, which grew out of the East Belfast Mission, phoned to cancel the booking just hours before the meeting, inconveniencing the party and leaving its Northern Ireland leader, David McNarry, furious.

The centre claimed that it did not accept political bookings, but had accepted the initial booking and has in the past hosted the Green Party and other political groups.

Skainos did not comment at the time and yesterday could not be reached. However, it is believed that it may speak on the issue next week.

Mr McNarry, who said he had to ask for a meeting several times, told the News Letter that he met members of the Skainos board, one of whom admitted to taking the decision to cancel the booking.

He said it “wasn’t very clear” why the decision was taken, but said “it seemed that they were or are in the throes of negotiating some funding and they maybe thought that having a political party might go against their funding application which I find disgraceful”.

Mr McNarry said hat he had “asked for an apology and I received one...I said to him that I want a public apology and an explanation”.