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Showdown talks over Frankie Boyle Belfast gig

By Rebecca Black

Published 29/07/2015


A group of concerned parents leading a charge against controversial comedian Frankie Boyle appearing at Feile an Phobail held further talks last night.

The Feile For All group emerged earlier this month to oppose the planned appearance by Boyle at Falls Park on August 7.

The group, made up of families of children with Down's syndrome, has expressed disgust at Feile's invitation to Boyle, who is notorious for his tasteless jokes, including about children with the condition.

Boyle has appeared in Belfast several times playing major venues, but the group has said booking him for a community festival which received public funding is inappropriate.

Feile For All met the organisers of the festival on Monday for an hour-long discussion. Neither side has revealed what was talked about, but it is understood that Boyle will still perform.

It is understood that a form of compromise was thrashed out between the two sides at the meeting.

However, Feile For All wanted to discuss what was said with the rest of its members before agreeing the wording of a joint statement to be issued publicly.

This is believed to have been the main topic of the group's meeting last night at a community centre in Poleglass.

The joint statement is expected to be released later this week.

Meanwhile, one of the funders of the festival appears to be distancing itself from the furore over Boyle's performance.

A spokesman for Belfast City Council said that any complaints or concerns around the Feile an Phobail event would have to be raised with the event organiser.

"The council or council committees also do not meet until next month and if there were to be any concerns about the event in Falls Park raised via the politicians, they would have to be brought up for discussion at the next committee by councillors," he added.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is a founder of Feile. He has defended the festival, and hinted it could not afford to cancel Boyle.

It is understood that the cost of both refunding tickets and honouring the comedian's contract would cost the Feile tens of thousands of pounds.

Mr Adams told the Belfast Telegraph that a contract had been signed and cancellation would cost a lot of money to the event, which was "run on a shoestring".

"There are a lot of figures flying about. I can't say how much it would cost but it is a lot," he said.

Mr Adams spoke at the launch about how Feile was first conceived in 1988, saying he was fed up with west Belfast being demonised and described how it was to showcase the talent from the area.

Continuing that spirit, he said that Feile had "no interest in offending anyone at all".

"People with Down's syndrome and special needs are a strong part of Feile," he said.

"I can see why people are offended. It is a difficult issue for the families who will be offended."

But last week fellow Sinn Fein member Tom Hartley broke ranks by joining the protest against Boyle's performance, and urged organisers to reconsider.


Feile An Phobail announced in May that controversial comedian Frankie Boyle would be one of the headline acts this year.

Parents of disabled children from the area reacted with horror and urged organisers to reconsider booking Boyle.

Feile For All was formed in opposition to Boyle appearing and has staged protests outside Feile's offices on the Falls Road.

Belfast Telegraph

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