Northern Ireland

GAA pundit Joe Brolly says pro-IRA chanting 'has to go'

Barrister and GAA pundit Joe Brolly. Picture by Mal McCann
Barrister and GAA pundit Joe Brolly. Picture by Mal McCann Barrister and GAA pundit Joe Brolly. Picture by Mal McCann

The 'Up the Ra' chanting "has to go", GAA pundit Joe Brolly has said.

He said the move was needed in a bid to “reconcile properly” with the unionist community.

It comes after condemnation of singing of a pro-IRA chant on the final night of the Féile An Phobail festival in west Belfast.

Social media footage showed the crowd chanting “Oh, ah, up the Ra” as the Wolfe Tones played their annual gig on Sunday evening at Falls Park.

DUP MLA Emma Little-Pengelly said the chanting at the event was the “shame of Belfast”, while TUV leader Jim Allister said the festival had degenerated into a “terror fest”.

Last year's festival also saw similar scenes of singing in support of the IRA at the Wolfe Tones concert.

Speaking on Newstalk’s podcast The Hard Shoulder, Mr Brolly said he believed it was time for chant to go.

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"In order to reconcile properly with people of good faith in the other community, something like 'Ooh ah up the Ra' - for me - it has to go," he said.

"I understand that it's not a call to arms, and it's nothing like that anymore.

"Even though it's a dumb song and it's about graffiti on a wall in Glasgow, shouting 'Ooh ah up the Ra' – it must be depressing for people in the unionist community who've lost loved ones.

"It must be very hurtful and depressing, and honestly I think we're better than that."

Read more: Who were the Provisional IRA?

Mr Brolly added that he believed younger people involved in the chanting “don’t really understand what it was all about”.

"Part of it is giving a finger to the British empire and the machinery of the state," he said.

"I think also in relation to the IRA, young people don't really understand what it was all about.

"You look at this: it's absolutely vibrant, it's joy, it's 'Ooh, ah, up the Ra'.”

The barrister, whose son was at the event, added: "So I think [for] a lot of younger people it's more a sense of identity, of saying, 'We had no army, we had no police, but what we had was the Ra and they stood up for us'.

"It's not for me.”