Van Morrison concert: One fifth of free tickets for 'VIPs'

Up to 500 of the 2,500 free tickets are being held for Belfast councillors and special guests

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One fifth of tickets for a free Van Morrison concert in Belfast have been reserved for elected councillors and "VIPs", the city council has confirmed.

The Belfast-born singer is due to perform at the Waterfront Hall on 15 November, shortly after he is granted the freedom of his native city.

The council, which is organising the gig, has offered 2,000 seats to members of the public in Belfast.

The other 500 tickets are being kept for councillors and special guests.

The Irish News has reported that Belfast's 51 elected representatives are set to receive four free tickets each.

Councillors voted to award Morrison the freedom of Belfast last month.

Members of the public who want to see the 68-year-old singer on stage have to apply for a seat through a lottery system.

Ulster Unionist Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers told the BBC's Nolan Show the VIP list includes some "senior council officers" as well as guests who have been personally invited by the singer.

"If you look at councils, look at assemblies, look at parliaments throughout the world, their elected representatives get the opportunity of being invited along as guests," Mr Rodgers added.

"We've tried to do this in the fairest way possible and no matter what you come up with there will always be people who are unhappy and disappointed."

Belfast citizens who are successful in the draw will be allocated a maximum of two tickets per applicant.

They can still apply either in person at the Waterfront Hall or online through the venue's website, or through the council's website.

The ballot opened last week and will close on Wednesday 30 October.

The organisers will then hold a computerised draw to ensure the publicly allocated tickets are spread evenly throughout the city.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "At least 80% of tickets are being made available to the public.

"At this stage, around 500 tickets are being retained for council members, special guests of Van Morrison, representatives of the music industry and other VIPs, but it is likely some of these will also be released to the public."

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