On-air spat over Wolfe Tones chant at Féile an Phobail

On-air spat over Wolfe Tones chant at Féile an Phobail

THE Wolfe Tones have been accused of "glorifying slaughter" during an explosive row on prime time RTÉ

The republican band's frontman Brian Warfield argued the toss with Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline, after a video circulated on social media of revellers chanting “Ooh ah, up the ‘Ra” at the Féile an Phobail, the West Belfast Festival.

Clips of the concert showed up to 10,000 fans chanting out the lyrics to the band's song Celtic Symphony at the Falls Park venue.

The chorus of the 1987 song has angered members of the unionist community, with one DUP representative describing the now traditional Wolfe Tones concert at the féile t as an "annual hatefest".

As a motto, the chant has now become synonymous with nationalist sympathies, although Brian Warfield previously told The Irish Post that he’d written the Celtic Symphony in 1987 in Glasgow, for the centenary of Celtic FC

Wandering about Glasgow, he said, he saw graffiti on the walls of the city in the Irish areas. “'Up Celtic, up the Ra'. . . And it made me realise that the diaspora had supported Ireland through rebellion, through the Great Famine, through the violence meted out to ordinary Irish people through oppression and starvation.”

But veteran broadcaster Joe Duffy was having none of this. The fallout continued on his programme  Liveline, when he slammed the song as "old rubbish".

Warfield defended the chanting, insisted: "I love the music of Ireland and the story of Ireland. We were up in Belfast last night, over 10,000 people there, it sold out in less than half an hour. I think the unionist people are jealous."

However, Duffy cut in, stressing: "People know your music", before labelling the song as "brutal". The radio host also suggested Warfield had made enough money from the song through the many complaints people had made about it over the years.

Warfield hit back, arguing: "Up in Derry they sing a song ‘Up to our necks in Fenian blood” and “F**k the Pope”.

"Celtic Symphony and 'Ooh ah, up the Ra' is only a lullaby compared to some of these songs. I've gone through this before."

But Joe Duffy remained unimpressed, and was "sick of hearing it". He said: "It's brutal, old rubbish,” adding, "I would never make a penny glorifying slaughter which you do. Even the political wing of the IRA don't sing it. I don't care what you think I am. I'm not going out for a glass of milk with you.

"I wouldn't go after anyone who glories in the slaughter of children."

During the fiery clash, one caller to the show said he thought the way Brian Warfield had been treated on the show by Joe Duffy was “disgraceful”.

“We can all move on Joe, but that doesn’t mean songs can’t be sung,” the caller said.

“The only thing is, you can’t move on if you’re buried six feet under,” Joe Duffy retorted

Previously Brian Warfield has told The Irish Post: “We’ve never pedalled the image of the drunken Paddy, the stupid Paddy, like so many entertainers. The Irish don’t need to do that; we have a great story to tell, we have great legends to sing about.”

This was a point he also made on RTÉ.