Northern Ireland

West Belfast Irish language hip hop trio Kneecap 'haven’t stopped laughing' since mural criticism

DJ Provaí of the rap trio Kneecap beside the controversial artwork unveiled in Belfast before last week's Féile appearance
DJ Provaí of the rap trio Kneecap beside the controversial artwork unveiled in Belfast before last week's Féile appearance DJ Provaí of the rap trio Kneecap beside the controversial artwork unveiled in Belfast before last week's Féile appearance

WEST Belfast rappers Kneecap say they "haven’t stopped laughing" since coming in for criticism after unveiling a mural promoting the hip hop act that featured a PSNI Land Rover being petrol bombed.

The trio - who rap in Irish - unveiled the artwork on the Falls Road last weekend ahead of their appearance in front of thousands of festival goers at Féile An Phobail.

The mural featured a Land Rover in flames accompanied by the writing "nil fáilte roimh an RUC", the Irish translation for "the RUC aren’t welcome".

But the image was condemned by unionist politicians and Justice Minister Naomi Long.

However, band member Moglaí Bap claimed they were "just three boys from Belfast making a bit of art".

"We haven’t stopped laughing," he told The Guardian newspaper.

"We left for Europe the day after it all kicked off. We had no converters for our phones so we haven’t had a lot of access to social media for the last few days.

"Our manager contacted us to let us know the craic but we hadn’t read anything. The reality is we’re stuck in the middle.

"Not only do we have loyalists and unionists on one side, we have dissident republicans on the other. I think that sums up what we stand for.

"It’s not like we’re the cultural wing of the CIRA (Continuity Irish Republican Army) or something.

"Anti-police sentiment has been long-standing in the hip-hop community. This isn’t new.

"We didn’t burn a police Land Rover, we painted one.

"Some people are more worried about a piece of art than the effigies of real politicians hanging off bonfires. We don’t want to be fighting or advocating violence.

"We want people to be thinking."

Fellow group member Mo Chara also said he did not believe the mural was sectarian.

"I looked at the... thing a million times, thinking: ‘How is this in any way sectarian?," he said.

"We took the design from a PSNI colouring book sent out to schools because they had such poor support from young people in the community."