Belfast Telegraph

Furore over Frankie Boyle Belfast booking has been building for months

By Rebecca Black

It all started in May when Feile an Phobail announced Glasgow comic Frankie Boyle would be one of its headline acts for 2015.

As word started to spread that the notorious comedian was set to play in the heart of west Belfast at a community festival, anger among the parents of children with disabilities grew.

Protesters have run an effective campaign, continually stressing this was not an dispute over freedom of speech. Instead they have objected to a man known to hold such controversial views being booked for a community festival which receives public funding.

Poleglass woman Michelle Maginn, a stepmother of a child with Down's sydrome, said they thought it was a joke and could not believe that the man who makes gags about disabled children would be invited to attend Feile.

Michelle and other parents started to contact Feile to express their outrage and plead that the show be cancelled.

Feeling they were not being listened to, the angry parents and friends set up online petitions and began to come together to discuss the matter. Next, the anger was voiced in the Belfast Telegraph.

One June 16, this paper published comments from the Stephen Hartley Down's Syndrome Support Group urging that Boyle's gig be axed.

Julie Farrelly from the group, whose seven-year-old son Matthew has Down's, said she was "bitterly disappointed" by the booking.

Feile organisers then responded saying they take all complaints seriously but they were adamant the show would go on.

In mid-July it emerged that Boyle's comeback show was reportedly scrapped by the BBC over a tasteless joke about the IRA murder of Lord Mountbatten.

Protesters then came together with the Stephen Hartley group as well as charity Kids Together to form the group Feile for All.

The first physical protest was held outside Feile offices on the Falls Road last Friday and saw more than 100 people turn out, including one of the founders of Feile and former Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Hartley.

Mr Hartley's attendance was significant as the first member of Sinn Fein to take up the cause.

Mother Roisin Curran was also among the protesters and issued a challenge for Boyle to meet her 12-year-old child Mia, who has Down's syndrome.

There was another protest on Saturday afternoon before Feile for All met the organisers of Feile yesterday afternoon for what has been described as a "frank" discussion.

A spokeswoman from Feile for All said there were a number of issues they took away from the meeting that they wanted to discuss with members before a joint statement with Feile was issued.

Belfast Telegraph


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