Belfast Telegraph

'Mistakes made' says arts group after Martina Anderson attends event in loyalist estate

Martina Anderson at Tullycarnet Library
Martina Anderson at Tullycarnet Library

An arts organisation has admitted that "mistakes" were made after Martina Anderson showed up unannounced at event in east Belfast.

The Eastside Arts group released a statement after the Sinn Fein MEP attended an event last Saturday organised by artist Lise McGreevy in Tullycarnet Library, billed as a showcase for Ulster-Scots and Irish heritage.

During the event Ms Anderson, who arrived with a camera crew, quoted IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Following Ms Anderson's attendance Sinn Fein posted a video on YouTube.

Local residents and unionist politicians expressed concern over the visit and the convicted IRA bomber's behaviour. PUP councillor John Kyle branded the visit a "publicity stunt".

Chief Executive of Eastside Arts Maurice Kincaid addressed the concerns around Ms Anderson's visit at a public meeting.

Eastside Arts said that the full responsibility for the event belonged to them and that Ms McGreevy had invited politicians from every background to attend the event.

"All who attended came as event attendees, not participants, to see the exhibition and experience some live music and poetry," Eastside Arts told the BBC.

"Eastside Arts should have discussed and provided appropriate advice on the proposed invite list with the artist."

The arts group said that they also should have "ensured that the local community were aware of the event, including potential invitees".

"Eastside Arts unreservedly apologises for our failure to do this," a spokesperson said.

Martina Anderson arriving at the venue
Martina Anderson arriving at the venue

"The artist Lise McGreevy staged this event as a peace and reconciliation event and is horrified and deeply regrets the negative impact it has caused, and especially the hurt it has caused the local community.

"We have no doubt that this was never the artist's intention."

Eastside Arts said that they acknowledged the hurt and anger felt by the Tullycarnet community and that they were "committed to ensuring the mistakes made in organising the event are not repeated".

Earlier this week a Sinn Fein spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph that Ms Anderson "was invited to an event as part of the Eastside Arts Festival promoting peace and reconciliation and was happy to attend and take part".

"Martina Anderson was democratically elected to the European Parliament to represent everyone in the north and regularly engages with people from all communities and backgrounds," the spokesperson said.

The visit came days after Ms Anderson provoked controversy for a speech in which she told the Government that its "days in Ireland are numbered" and used the slogan "Tiocfaidh ar la".

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