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Fans at flautist's BBC concert divided over radio show outburst

By David Young

Published 06/06/2015

Opinion was mixed among fans at James Galway’s performance
Opinion was mixed among fans at James Galway’s performance

As classical music fans headed to Belfast's Crumlin Road Gaol last night for the special BBC Music Day concert, reaction among them to Sir James Galway's Nolan Show bombshell was trenchant - and divided.

Lynn Clarkson Davies, from Whiteabbey, said she had been taken aback by his remarks.

"Sir James Galway is held in such great esteem in Northern Ireland," she added. "Ninety-eight per cent of people here are honest, hard-working people, and if he is judging us all by the 2% who aren't, I would be very, very disappointed."

Hillsborough man Brian Parkes was also unhappy. "He needs to stick to music," he said. "There's no need for him to get into those kind of political issues. I'm disappointed he has made such negative comments about Northern Ireland."

Among the 60-odd people at the event, there were some who said they had not heard Sir James' remarks. "I have no time to listen to Stephen Nolan - I have a job to do," one said.

But Leeanne Hawthorne, from Lisburn, backed Sir James and said: "Well, he's not telling any lies about Paisley now, is he?"

Belfast woman Margaret McGuckin also defended the celebrated flautist.

"I'm glad he spoke out," she said. "Sir James was speaking the truth. What he said needed to be said - and it took courage to speak out."

Her friend Kate Walmsley from Londonderry agreed. "He was a breath of fresh air," she said. "Though I felt that the Nolan Show wasn't the right platform for him to use."

Rosemary Dundee, from Newtownabbey, reckoned the musician would have been wiser to stay out of politics: "Everybody's entitled to their opinion, but sometimes it's wiser just to keep schtum."

And Bangor man Pat McCarthy felt similarly to Rosemary: "Galway was a bit naive," he said.

Sir James issued a statement last night clearly aimed a cooling the furore.

There was no mention of the controversy at the concert and the broadcast went on without a hitch.

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