Belfast Telegraph

Calls for public funding of Feile to be reviewed over pro-IRA chanting

The West Belfast Festival receives funding from Belfast City Council as well as the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Tourism NI.

There have been calls for the funding of the West Belfast Festival to be reviewed after footage emerged of pro-IRA chanting at one of its final events.

The controversy centres around a Wolfe Tones concert at the Falls Park on Sunday evening.

Some politicians have expressed anger over some of the band’s lyrics and pro-IRA chants from the crowd during the gig.

They have also expressed concern over the waving of Irish flags daubed with IRA slogans.

The West Belfast Festival, Feile an Phobail, receives funding from Belfast City Council as well as the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Tourism NI.

It includes 350 individual events, including debates, art exhibitions and concerts.

Olly Murs was among the headline acts to perform at the festival.

Organisers say the festival attracts visitors from across the community.

Alliance leader Naomi Long expressed concern about the scenes at the Wolfe Tones concert.

“Glorifying terrorism is both wrong and dangerous,” she said.

“Such a shame to end an otherwise inclusive fortnight of events on such a bitter, divisive and sectarian note.”

Ulster Unionist councillor Chris McGimpsey called for the funding of the festival to be looked at.

“In Belfast over the years we have given them millions of pounds and I think we need to look very, very seriously at that,” he told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show.

“They have really crossed the line, it is absolutely outrageous. This is not art, this is support for terrorism and we need to look seriously at that.”

A spokesman for Belfast City Council said they will be engaging with the organisers of Feile.

“We are working with all of our funded cultural partners to achieve shared celebrations of culture in Belfast,” he said.

“The terms of our funding state that the grant must comply with statutory equality provisions.

“Belfast City Council will be engaging directly with the organiser concerning this matter.”

Feile an Phobail responded saying they had hosted a range of events.

A spokesman also pointed out that they had stopped the bonfires this year, which had previously sparked anti-social behaviour.

“This year’s 30th anniversary of Féile an Phobail saw the biggest Féile ever held. In total around 100,000 people attended this year’s Féile,” he said.

“Over 350 events took place, including 75 debates and discussions, 45 art exhibitions, a host of literary, sporting and theatre events, a massive carnival parade with over 4,000 people in attendance, a series of family events and three 10,000-capacity concerts.

“This year, representatives from all communities were welcomed to Féile to have their voice heard.

“This covered a wide and diverse range of society. Many representatives from unionist and loyalist communities attended and took part in various panels, as did representatives from ethnic minority communities and international visitors.

“Féile includes all opinions and all communities and provides a platform for many different views. There is something for everyone at Féile.

“Also significantly, this year, for the first time since 1971, there were no bonfires in Belfast on August 8.

“In past years these unwanted bonfires have brought destruction and an increase in anti-social behaviour to the areas in which they were held.

“Due to the hard work and commitment of Féile staff and volunteers, community organisations and political representatives, Belfast was bonfire free on August 8 and all those involved in achieving this deserve praise.”

Press Association

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