Belfast Telegraph

Feile an Phobail: Music, debate and sports on offer as 31st Feile gets under way

Boyzone
Boyzone
Phil Coulter
Michael Conlan’s public workout at Belfast City Hall ahead of the Feile Fight Night in Falls Park
Nelson McCausland
Michelle O'Neill
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The annual Feile an Phobail festival gets under way in west Belfast today with a packed programme of street theatre, children's events, parties in the park, concerts, sports, discussions and more taking place over the next 11 days.

Starting in 1988, Feile an Phobail (Festival of the People) is now into its 31st year and will welcome almost 70,000 visitors to Belfast from today until Sunday week, August 11, for a summer festival of arts, culture, music, debate and more.

The community-orientated but internationally-outlooking festival will host both local talent and others from around the world to share their art, culture and views.

Kicking off the festival tonight will be the 'Ireland's Future' event at St Mary's University College on the Falls Road, when four members of the Protestant community will discuss what a new Ireland means to them.

The panel will include Michael Eames, an orthopaedic consultant and the son of former Church of Ireland Primate Lord Eames; Alliance Party councillor for Lisburn and Castlereagh David Honeyford; Pastor Andy Masters from Lisburn's Lagan Valley Vineyard church, and Heather Wilson, a former SDLP council candidate from Ballysillan in north Belfast.

The event will be chaired by columnist and novelist Martina Devlin.

Home town boxing hero Michael Conlan will take on Diego Alberto Ruiz on Saturday evening as he looks to extend his perfect professional record to 12 wins from 12.

The winner will take both the WBA and WBO Inter-Continental featherweight titles and Conlan is confident of seeing off his Argentinian opponent in a clash that will be broadcast around the world on BT Sport.

This year's Feile will also be headlined by top musical performances from various Irish artists.

Singer songwriter Phil Coulter, who has 23 platinum discs and two Grand Prix Eurovision awards to his name, will play a number of his famous songs in the intimate setting of Clonard Monastery on Tuesday, August 6.

On the back of Olly Murs' outstanding performance in Falls Park last year comes popular Irish boyband Boyzone, who will play as part of their Thank You And Goodnight: Farewell Tour 2019 on Saturday, August 10.

Rebel band The Wolfe Tones have announced they will play another headline gig on Sunday, August 11.

Last year more than 10,000 people gathered in Falls Park for a controversial concert by the Dublin band, which heard pro-IRA chanting at the closing night of the publicly-funded festival.

In 2018 Feile hosted its first ever 'unionist-only' panel, which included UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt.

This year former DUP MLA Nelson McCausland is set to take part in the 'West Belfast Talks Back' event at St Louise's Comprehensive College on Wednesday next, August 7. He will be joined at the event by Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill and Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond.

This will be Feile's flagship event, which allows the audience an opportunity to ask questions on topical issues from a panel of politicians and others from Ireland, north and south, and Britain.

It will be chaired by BBC NI broadcaster Noel Thompson.

Delivering the first annual James Connolly lecture will be the current shadow Chancellor and high-profile Labour MP John McDonnell.

It will take place at St Mary's University College, close to the newly-built James Connolly Centre, next Monday, August 5.

Full details of all the upcoming events can be found on the festival's website, www.feilebelfast.com.

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