Belfast Telegraph

Down's group urges boycott of Frankie Boyle's Belfast show

By Rebecca Black

A support group for people with Down's syndrome has urged the public to boycott a show by Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle at the West Belfast Festival.

The festival has been plunged into controversy after local parents of disabled children reacted with horror to one of its headline acts, who has mocked youngsters with Down's syndrome.

Boyle has also been criticised in the past for making fun of model Katie Price's disabled son Harvey.

A number of parents of disabled children have voiced their disgust at the move to invite Boyle to perform, and are now calling for people to stay away from the show.

Julie Farrelly from the Stephen Hartley Down's Syndrome Support Group said: "We feel that the booking of Frankie Boyle was very disappointing and thoughtless.

"Feile have stated the show will go on, however the people and families we represent feel let down.

"Will people with Down's syndrome and autism feel welcome and comfortable at this event? No."

The Belfast Telegraph put the concerns to the festival's principal funders, the Arts Council, and asked whether it had a code of conduct for events.

In response a spokeswoman said it ran a competitive application process, and those that are successful are given conditions with their grant.

However, she said that the body's view is that no conditions of the grant had been breached.

"The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) core funds Feile an Phobail," she said.

"This funding contributes to staffing and running costs.

"The 2015 programme includes a wide range of arts and non-arts events and we support the public's right to make their own informed choices about which events to attend."

Ms Farrelly (right) said she was "disgusted" by the responses given by the funders. She has a young son with Down's syndrome.

She revealed that the group and another charity met with Feile and expressed their concerns.

"I would urge anyone attending this event to search their conscience and boycott this event. We would also like to invite our political representatives to support us as we feel their silence has been deafening so far.

"We feel Feile has let down the very community that it was set up to represent."

Feile has previously defended their decision to book Boyle.

The BBC's Children in Need also provides funding and was asked the same questions. A spokesman said BBC Children in Need only funded the salary costs of a youth arts worker at Feile, the host project.

"Our funding does not go towards this festival and as such, we have no involvement with this event," he said.

The National Lottery said its funding for the event was administered by the Arts Council.

Belfast Telegraph


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