Organisers of Belfast's Out to Lunch festival have expressed their shock after singer Julian Cope cancelled his appearance at the event this January over his concerns about the "security situation".

The former Teardrop Explodes singer who has worked as a left of centre solo artist for many years cancelled a gig in the city after a dissident republican bomb was left in the city's Cathedral Quarter last week, not far from where The Out to Lunch festival is staged in the Black Box theatre bar.

Festival organiser Sean Kelly said they were shocked by Cope's withdrawal. "In 15 years of organising festivals in Belfast, it's the first time we've lost an artist due to the security situation," he said.

"We received an email. It was very sudden and inexplicable so we simply released it on our website. People have been critical of the artist, but I don't think we should rush to judgement too much. I take him at his word that he was genuinely fearful for his safety and we just have to deal with that."