A food festival set to take place on the Fermanagh/Cavan Border may not go ahead as originally planned due to timing needed to approve a road closure.

The Boxty without Borders food festival is to bring 16 “top chefs” from around Ireland to cook for 150 people on the Border.

Currently it is planned to take place on September 15 on the bridge connecting the villages of Belcoo and Blacklion, which also marks the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

However, due to a 12-week consultation period needed prior to the approval of a road closure, the festival may not be able to take place on the bridge as the festival organisers had originally planned.

One of the festival organisers JJ O’Hara said: “We are having very hard hassle just to get that road closure. We are just trying to push on to get that.”

He continued: “We put the application for the festival in at the end of April/start of May and we were only told two weeks back about the 12 weeks. We weren’t told at the first stage. We are still trying to get it through.”

When asked what will happen if they don’t get the road closure approved in time, Mr. O’Hara said: “I don’t know, it’s a pity to lose such a high-profile festival to the area.

“I think it would be a very big highlight for Fermanagh to show the area and how all communities work together. It’s a very positive story to have these 16 top chefs from all over Ireland coming together. It’s a pity we can’t just get this moved on.”

He added: “The back-up plan is to use the community field, the College Green Meadow in Belcoo, but it won’t make as much of an impact.”

The road closure issue was raised under urgent business by Sinn Féin Councillor Chris McCaffrey at the reconvened meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council on Monday, August 5.

Councillor McCaffrey explained that although an application for the festival had been made over four weeks ago, the organisers were not made aware of the 12-week consultation period for the road closure and traffic management plan.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter following the Council meeting, Councillor McCaffrey said: “When they first made the application, it was over four weeks ago and they weren’t made aware of that period by anyone they had been speaking to and it was only in the correspondence from the council then that they were notified about this, but obviously that time has now gone past.”

He added: “Had they known from the start they could have had an application in on-time for that.”

During the meeting, acting Chief Executive of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Robert Gibson highlighted that although road closures are now the responsibility of the Council, the Council is only a “post box” and that timings are set by other bodies.

He continued: “A discussion did take place with officers in Cavan last Wednesday (July 31) and they were advised that the time was very tight but if they could get a traffic management plan in, there would be a proposal to try and speed things up, however that is not within this council’s gift.”

Mr. Gibson commented that the Road Service are under no obligation to respond to this council within any time shorter than 12 weeks.

Noting that “at this time, there is no application to this council and there’s no traffic management plan,” Mr. Gibson added.

“We certainly will do our best to work with anybody but we just don’t have an application and we don’t have any control of the process.”

Councillor McCaffrey confirmed that since the meeting of the Council on August 5, a road closure application has been made to the Council by the festival organisers.