Prime minister’s plan to lift mood after Brexit is set to clash with anniversary of Irish civil war

It was meant to be a glimmer of positivity to unite a divided nation – a festival to celebrate the best of British, bring communities together and strengthen “our precious union”.

Yet Theresa May is being warned that her plan for a Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland risks doing the opposite. The planned 2022 event, announced at last year’s Conservative conference, was criticised as a headline-grabbing distraction. But May now faces concerns that the timing clashes with the centenary of Irish partition and the civil war. Arts industry figures in Northern Ireland and some of those involved in the peace process are also understood to have concerns. These worries are revealed in a report by the thinktank British Future, which examined the potential for arts and heritage to bring the nation together. The study calls on the festival to be delayed by at least three years.

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