Life

Jake O'Kane: Let's starve the idiotic sectarian minority of attention they so desperately desire

Jake O'Kane

Jake O'Kane

Jake is a comic, columnist and contrarian.

Jake eventually agreed to perform at the Féile...
Jake eventually agreed to perform at the Féile... Jake eventually agreed to perform at the Féile...
The Wolfe Tones return to Féile an Phobail this weekend
The Wolfe Tones return to Féile an Phobail this weekend The Wolfe Tones return to Féile an Phobail this weekend

FÉILE an Phobail ends on Sunday night with the traditional Wolfe Tones concert in Falls Park. No doubt there will be the traditional waving of tricolours and singing of pro-IRA songs by kids so young the IRA may as well be Captain Marvel or Batman as far as they're concerned.

This will again no doubt trigger the traditional fainting fits in the unionist mainstream media, accompanied by the subsequent annual demands that funding for Féile be cut in retribution. When all the denunciation has finished, no cut will happen, as Belfast City Council now has, and will forever have, a nationalist majority.

Not that nationalists can take the moral high ground in terms of reactions to infantile provocation, as every Twelfth they mirror this behaviour with their own 'traditional' condemnation of flags and posters burning on loyalist bonfires.

Read more: The Wolfe Tones and Celtic Symphony: Why is the song contentious?

An 11th night bonfire in Moygashel, Co Tyrone
An 11th night bonfire in Moygashel, Co Tyrone An 11th night bonfire in Moygashel, Co Tyrone

It's all so predictable as to be almost laughable, with many in our body politic and media doing passable impersonations of aged Victorian ladies, askance at the moral latitude of the young.

What's seldom questioned is what's achieved by such hubristic posturing. After all, most 11th night bonfires don't burn flags or posters, and the vast majority of those who attend Féile behave in a respectful fashion towards their unionist neighbours.

Those in both communities who indulge in anti-social criminality are a minuscule minority of pathetic attention-seekers who find validation in the unwarranted reaction to their acting out.

I suggest we stop the annual tit-for-tat round of moral indignation and starve the idiots of the oxygen of attention they so desperately desire. Let them burn their flags and posters, sing their songs until their little lungs burst, for their moment will pass instantly – and any parent will tell you it's best to ignore a spoilt and screaming child.

Jake eventually agreed to perform at the Féile...
Jake eventually agreed to perform at the Féile... Jake eventually agreed to perform at the Féile...

Read more:

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My connection with Féile stretches back decades and wasn't always plain sailing. For many years, I was completely ignored by the organisers, who instead brought comics from the south, England, Scotland, Wales, Australia and even America to perform at Féile's Comedy Night.

This tactic didn't always pan out, as on one infamous occasion, a well-known English comic – who hadn't bothered to read up on his audience – began his set with, "It's great to be back in the UK, I'm just home from entertaining our army boys stationed in Iraq". Let's just say he'd a very hard night from that point on.

Being somewhat temperamental and with a personal mantra of never forgetting a kindness or forgiving a slight, I took being snubbed by Féile personally. So, when a new management team took over and decided to give local acts an opportunity and approached me to perform, I took great glee instructing my agent tell them where they could stuff their Féile.

'And another thing'... Jake O'Kane on stage
'And another thing'... Jake O'Kane on stage 'And another thing'... Jake O'Kane on stage

Communications were re-established when Seán A Murray, now an acclaimed film-maker, took the trouble to meet me in person and invited myself, Colin Murphy and Neil Dougan to do a comedy night in The Felons' club on the Falls Road.

Whilst still not part of the actual Féile programme, we all got a kick out of doing the festival's first ever 'fringe' comedy show.

Eventually, my ego trumped my huffing and I relented, agreeing to play the big tent which, while an amazing experience, wasn't one I'd any intention of repeating, as the space simply wasn't suited to comedy.

Féile organisers took on board my concerns and moved the Comedy Night to the Devenish Arms, where it remains to this day. It's also to their credit that they continue to feature new local comedy talent. I believe this is a wise decision for all concerned, as some locals still twitch when remembering the English comic who, standing in the Falls Park, expected praise for entertaining "our boys".

The PSNI suffered a major data breach this week
The PSNI suffered a major data breach this week The PSNI suffered a major data breach this week

The online leak of information about personnel in the PSNI is without doubt one of the most egregious breaches of trust imaginable.

I noticed a pivot by police management to frame the incident as an unfortunate instance of 'human error' by a junior member of staff. While such a framing is beneficial to PSNI hierarchy, it's an insult to our intelligence, and will bring no comfort to those whose private information was leaked.

What occurred was a systemic failure demonstrating a lamentable lack of rudimentary security protocols. The responsibility, therefore, does not rest on the shoulders of a 'junior member of staff' who hit a wrong button, but those who signed off on the button being there in the first place.

PSNI assistant chief constable Chris Todd speaking to media about a data breach. Picture by Rebecca Black/PA Wire.
PSNI assistant chief constable Chris Todd speaking to media about a data breach. Picture by Rebecca Black/PA Wire. PSNI assistant chief constable Chris Todd speaking to media about a data breach. Picture by Rebecca Black/PA Wire.