Controversy after IRA flags and chanting at publicly funded west Belfast festival

Controversy after IRA flags and chanting at publicly funded west Belfast festival

QUESTIONS have been raised following footage of festival-goers singing IRA songs and waving IRA flags at west Belfast festival.

The incident occurred at the publicly-funded West Belfast Feile yesterday.

The festival was founded in 1988 as a “direct response to the conflict” in Northern Ireland.

During a Wolfe Tones performance last night, footage emerged on social media of revellers waving a Republic of Ireland flag with IRA scribbled on it, and chanting pro-IRA songs.

According to PUP Belfast Councillor Julie-Ann Corr Johnston, the performers didn’t help the situation.

“At Feile to a crowd of 10,000, the lyrics “f*** your Union Jack we want our country back” – “And we will fight you for 800 more” were sang live, To which chants of “ooh ahh up the raa” echoed Falls Park.

“I’m angry. I’m disappointed. I’m disheartened. Reconciliation and respect – words without meaning,” she continued.

The principal funders of the event are the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Tourism Northern Ireland.

Speaking to BBC Radio UUP Belfast City Councillor Chris McGimpsey said the funding needed to be examined.

“In Belfast over the years we have given the millions of pounds and I think we need to look very, very seriously at that,” he said.

"They have really crossed the line, it is absolutely outrageous. This is not art, this is support for terrorism and we need to look seriously at that.

"Our problem with Belfast City Council is in all of these contentious votes the Alliance, Sinn Fein and the SDLP generally vote together and the unionists are always outvoted and there is very little we can do.

"There needs to be a serious look at this. We can't let this go this time. Its gone too far."