Belfast Telegraph

Feile an Phobail: Calls for police investigation after pro-IRA chanting

The director of the festival defended the use of public funding.

The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )

By Eimear McGovern

There have been calls for a police investigation after pro-IRA chanting was heard during a Wolfe Tones concert at Feile an Phobail for the second year in a row.

The director of the west Belfast festival defended booking the Irish folk band, who have played during the concert segment of the festival for nine years in a row.

It's after footage emerged of attendees chanting "up the RA" during the concert in Falls Park on Sunday.

"The Feile are not in the business of censoring," said Kevin Gamble, director of Feile an Phobail on the Nolan Show.

"Anybody who comes to the Féile are provided a platform for the last 31 years to express opinions," he said, speaking to the BBC's Nolan programme.

"We welcome people from a multitude of different communities and opinions. In no way am I going to ask a band to stop singing a song. That is censorship and not what Feile is involved in doing."

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers, also speaking on the Nolan Show, called for the PSNI to investigate chanting of IRA slogans at the Feile festival.

The PSNI has been approached for comments.

The loyalist activist Jamie Bryson said he has reported Feile an Phobail to the Charities Commission.

"There will be significant unionist attention on the Northern Ireland Charity Commission & how they deal with the issues around Feile’s endorsement of the promotion of IRA terrorism," he said in a Tweet. 

The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Ellie McAuley )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Ellie McAuley )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )
The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park, west Belfast on August 11th 2019 ( Photo by Kevin Scott )

"Failure to robustly investigate will confirm what many perceive to be an inherent bias."

The festival itself is publicly funded through Belfast City Council.

But Kevin Gamble said none of the public funding they receive goes toward staging the concert, which he described as the commercial element of the festival.

"The funding that we receive from public bodies, be that Belfast City Council or Tourism NI or anybody like that," he said.

"There's specific criteria that we have to meet and we state in our application when we're applying to them, the money we spend is all checked and monitored by those bodies and also through independent evaluation which is done year after year.

"We can stand over every single penny that we spend."

Speaking to BBC News NI, a Belfast City Council spokesperson said that the Feile "presents an eclectic range of over 300 inclusive arts and cultural activities over a 10-day period enjoyed by people from across Belfast and beyond".

"Whilst council supports the festival on this basis, funding provided is not to be used for commercial activity of which the Wolfe Tones event is one.

"As part of the terms of our funding the grant must comply with statutory equality provisions."

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