Northern Ireland news

Unionists criticise pro-IRA chants at Wolfe Tones concert in west Belfast

The Wolfe Tones performing at Falls Park at Féile an Phobail on Sunday night
Brendan Hughes

UNIONISTS have criticised a community festival in west Belfast after pro-IRA chanting was heard during a Wolfe Tones concert for the second year running.

The Irish rebel music band played a headline gig in front of more than 10,000 people in Falls Park on Sunday as part of Féile an Phobail.

Footage emerged which appeared to show some in the crowd involved in chants including "Up the Ra" and '"F*** your Union Jack".

It follows criticism of the band's performance last year due to pro-IRA chants from the crowd and some revellers waving tricolours daubed with IRA slogans.

Féile an Phobail, a registered charity, receives funding from public bodies including Belfast City Council.

DUP councillor Brian Kingston, who plans to pursue his concerns with senior council staff, said the chants were "glorifying IRA terrorism".

"There continue to be huge questions for organisers as to why the glorification of terrorism apparently must be an integral part of the West Belfast Festival," he said.

He added: "Neither can Belfast City Council ignore this abuse of a council facility and council funding."

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers branded it "unacceptable and disgraceful".

"As far as I am concerned there is going to have to be an investigation into what took place," he told the News Letter.

"It was at a council venue and after what happened last year there were assurances that this would not be allowed to happen again."

A promoter for the Wolfe Tones said the band did not perform any song with 'f*** your Union Jack' as lyrics "or anything close to them".

"The group played for two-and-a-half hours to rave reviews, and are once again honoured to have headlined the closing night of such a successful Féile," they added.

A Belfast council spokesman said funding for Féile is not provided for commercial events such as the Wolfe Tones gig.

"As per their application for funding, Féile presents an eclectic range of 300-plus inclusive arts and cultural activities over a 10-day period enjoyed by people from across Belfast and beyond," he said.

"Whilst council supports the festival on this basis, funding provided is not to be used for commercial activity of which the Wolfe Tones event is one. As part of the terms of our funding the grant must comply with statutory equality provisions."

DUP councillor Brian Kingston

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