Belfast Telegraph

How Feile tried to keep Belfast Telegraph out of Frankie Boyle gig

After a string of excoriating articles taking Frankie Boyle to task over his offensive material, we were declared persona non grata at his show... but we got in anyway

By David Young

The West Belfast Festival had tried to scupper the Belfast Telegraph's coverage of last night's Falls Park appearance by controversial comic Frankie Boyle.

Feile an Phobail had come under strong criticism after this newspaper highlighted how the 'people's festival' had chosen a grossly offensive comedian to headline one of its biggest events.

Festival organisers had come under intense pressure to cancel Boyle's booking from local campaigners offended by jokes the comedian had made in 2010 about Down's Syndrome children.

Yet in the Feile programme, the organisation's members described themselves as being "beyond thrilled to have one of the finest living comedians over in West Belfast for this year's Feile celebrations." Despite an earlier agreement to supply review tickets to this paper, media access for the Belfast Telegraph to the Scottish funnyman's Falls Park gig was withdrawn by the organisers earlier this week.

A Feile spokesperson claimed that the show was "sold out", and that no media review tickets were now available.

And the Belfast Telegraph learned yesterday that a leading photography agency - engaged to supply pictures from the event to all media - had been instructed not to supply any images to the Belfast Telegraph. However, when asked to explain the reasons behind the photo ban, a Feile representative denied any knowledge of the matter.

He suggested the ban may have come from "a higher authority" or even from Frankie Boyle himself.

Just a few moments later, it became clear there had been a U-turn performed.

"Whatever impediment there was has been overturned," the Feile spokesperson wrote in a text to this newspaper.

The Belfast Telegraph obtained its own tickets for the Falls Park show independently.

Up to 2,500 people were expected to attend last night's event.

At £25 a ticket, the event had the potential to rake in more than £62,000.

Organisers had said sorry for booking such a controversial comic as a headline act - but always insisted the gig would go ahead. It's understood Feile an Phobail would have faced financial ruin if it scrapped the Boyle gig.

The cost of refunding tickets and also honouring the comedian's contract would cost the Feile tens of thousands of pounds.

The Scottish comic is most notorious for his nasty 'jokes' about the disabled, including Down's Syndrome children.

Boyle had mocked the condition, and gained further notoriety after a loathsome joke about the son of Katie Price, aka Jordan. Eight-year-old Harvey suffers from a rare genetic condition called Prader-Willi syndrome and has limited vision.

After Boyle's performance was announced, a group of parents of disabled children said booking him for a community festival which received public funding was inappropriate.

As public opinion against the event grew, Feile organisers met the parents group to attempt to draw a line under their protest against it.

But despite the festival saying sorry and promising to do things differently in future, the show still went ahead.

Belfast Telegraph


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