Belfast Telegraph

Campaign stepped up to have Frankie Boyle banned by Feile an Phobail festival

By Joanne Sweeney

Anger is mounting over comedian Frankie Boyle's appearance at Feile an Phobail next month.A meeting to discuss the next stage of a protest campaign was held last night.

More than 1,300 people have signed an online petition and a further 1,000 people are supporting a Facebook campaign calling for his West Belfast Festival appearance to be cancelled.

The controversial comedian is due to appear on Friday, August 7 at Falls Park with tickets costing £25.

Parents of children with Down's syndrome have been particularly outraged at the prospect of Scots-born Boyle appearing at the community festival following his past comments on stage referring to the children and joking at their shorter life expectancy.

Parents have vented their anger on the Facebook website about the booking.

One post said: "This year Feile have booked Frankie Boyle, notorious for ridiculing the most vulnerable people in this community, the disabled. Feile are wrong.

"It's simple really, cancel the gig, other cities have done so why not west Belfast?"

One of those asking for Boyle's show to be cancelled is John Lundy, the father of a 12-year-old girl who has Down's syndrome.

He has criticised the organisers of the Feile an Phobail for "digging its heels in" over its refusal not to cancel the performance.

He is one of the many parents who are behind the Feile an Phobail Cancel the Frankie Boyle Show social media campaign who attended a special meeting at the Kids Together building on the Stewartstown Road last night.

"The thing that is really irritating is that we are hitting close to 1,300 people who have signed our petition and 1,000 who support Facebook campaign, but Feile seem to be digging their heels in and coming up with spurious arguments as to why the Frankie Boyle show should go ahead," Mr Lundy said.

"It can't be a community festival when a large section of the community does not want someone to appear there.

"Some of the jokes are more offensive than others, particularly joking at the age people with Down's syndrome die.

"We see it as a disappointing and retrograde step.

"They talk about freedom of speech and this notion that it entitles you to say what you like, but you can't go outside and make comments about black or gay people, so why should he be allowed to talk in such a way about people who have Down's syndrome."

The father-of-three from south Belfast and his family had previously attended and enjoyed Feile.

Mr Lundy added that article 8b of the United Nation's Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls on all member states to do all they can to stop the stereotyping of disabled people and anything which mocks them.

He added ahead of last night's protest meeting: "We had hoped that the Feile organisers would have realised that they made a gaffe.

"Everybody can make a mistake and it may have to do with money now."

A spokesman for Feile an Phobail said that it wished to wait to listen to the comments at the meeting before making any further statements.

Belfast Telegraph


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