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Feile organisers must think again over Frankie Boyle gig

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 25/07/2015

Comedian Frankie Boyle is to perform at Féile an Phobail: West Belfast Festival on August 7
Comedian Frankie Boyle is to perform at Féile an Phobail: West Belfast Festival on August 7

The appearance of Frankie Boyle at the West Belfast Festival is being strongly opposed by parents of disabled children, and rightly so. This is because of Boyle's past remarks about Down's syndrome youngsters, and the parents protested yesterday outside the Feile office.

They were reduced to the ignominious position of holding placards asking why someone should be paid handsomely to stand on a stage and mock their loved ones.

Boyle doubtless sees himself as an outspoken "teller of truth", but how far would he get on a west Belfast stage if he tried to apply the cutting edge of his humour to the atrocities perpetrated by militant republicanism?

Boyle may claim to be a professional controversialist, but some of his humour is well beyond that. It is tasteless, crass and deeply offensive, and no more so than when he is mocking children with Down's syndrome.

This is too much for Sinn Fein's Tom Hartley, a former Lord Mayor of Belfast and one of the founder members of the festival, who has joined the protest.

His brother Stephen has Down's syndrome, and the Stephen Hartley Down's Syndrome Support Group is named after him.

The Belfast Telegraph is fully behind all those who are opposed to the kind of material that Boyle peddles as "humour".

For doing so, we have been accused of alleged sectarianism, but we would be opposed to the humour of Boyle wherever he was scheduled to play. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the families who have been so badly hurt.

Now that Mr Hartley has made the brave decision to stand by his family and to oppose the booking of Boyle, there is an opportunity for the organisers to think again.

We recognise that Feile an Phobail is a significant event that has helped, at its best, to enhance the city.

But hopefully the organisers are big enough to think again about Frankie Boyle.

His appearance at the festival would be a step too far.

Belfast Telegraph

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