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Ulster Fleadh organisers condemn pro-IRA chanting at unofficial event in Dromore

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The Ulster Fleadh committee condemned the behaviour captured in the video taken at an unaffiliated event in the area (Stock image).

The Ulster Fleadh committee condemned the behaviour captured in the video taken at an unaffiliated event in the area (Stock image).

Deborah Erskine (left)

Deborah Erskine (left)

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The Ulster Fleadh committee condemned the behaviour captured in the video taken at an unaffiliated event in the area (Stock image).

Organisers of the Ulster Fleadh have condemned a video showing pro-IRA chanting by a group of young people.

In the footage, dozens of youths can be seen singing “Ooh, ah, up the ‘Ra” and “Tiocfaidh ar la” as they dance to Irish music.

The Ulster Fleadh committee said the video was taken at an unaffiliated event and expressed "sadness and anger”.

A DUP MLA praised the response, saying the committee’s “clear leadership” should be congratulated.

The Ulster Fleadh, one of Ireland's largest Irish music, dance and language festivals, had returned for the first time proper since the pandemic in Dromore, Co Tyrone, last week.

The organisers said: “The video was taken at an event unaffiliated with the Ulster Fleadh in a public premises in Dromore and was in no way part of the event programme.

“The Ulster Fleadh is proud to be a positive celebration of culture, and we have worked hard to build relationships across all communities in our society.

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“Part of the programme this year included marching bands from different traditions, and this is something we believe is central to bringing communities together and highlights our shared rich musical and cultural heritage.

“If any member of An Comhaltas is identified to have participated in this chant or any other sectarian activity, our committee will take steps to ensure this is dealt with in the strongest possible terms.

“This sort of incident has no place within the promotion of culture, does nothing to build trust and relations across communities, and the Ulster Fleadh executive committee has no hesitation in condemning it in the strongest terms.”

DUP MLA Deborah Erskine praised organisers for how they have handled the incident.

“I not only welcome their swift reply, but the unequivocal condemnation of what took place in the video,” she said.

“I recognise that the video was recorded at an event unaffiliated with the Fleadh, but it obviously was recorded in Dromore during that week.

“The organisers have shown clear leadership and they must be congratulated.”

Mrs Erskine said the assurance that action will be taken against any member involved will be welcomed by everyone.

She added: “I would echo completely their words that this sort of incident "does nothing to build trust and relations across the community".

“I hope the leadership of the Executive Committee will be followed by all political representatives, just as other incidents of sectarianism and intolerance recently have been condemned by all parties,” Ms Erskine added.

“There is a particular onus on political representatives who have glorified and eulogised members of the IRA.

“Such actions only serve to offer justification to people such as those in the video that it is somehow acceptable to engage in this behaviour.

“There is an opportunity now however to follow the leadership from others and distance themselves from this kind of behaviour."

UUP MLA Tom Elliott said: "The most concerning bit is the fact that the majority witnessed is of an age where they didn't have to fear the bombs and bullets of the cowardly IRA. Victims of terrorism deserve better from the next generation."

Fermanagh & Omagh District Council said no council cash was allocated to the event where pro-republican chanting was recorded.

A spokesperson added: “The council can confirm that as this event was not part of the official Fleadh activities it was not in receipt of any council support.”


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