Feile an Phobail: Stop booking the Wolfe Tones, says DUP after ‘embarrassing’ pro-IRA chanting

A DUP MLA has described the pro-IRA chanting at a Wolfe Tones gig over the weekend as an “embarrassment for the council and the city”.

ormer Belfast lord mayor Brian Kingston also called on other parties to come together to ensure there was no repeat of the incident in the future.

The North Belfast MLA urged the organisers of the festival to stop booking the Wolfe Tones.

Emma Little-Pengelly, his DUP colleague, and Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara said funding should be reviewed.

Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Kingston called on parties to show a united front against sectarian chants at the event because his party did not have enough councillors to win a vote on the issue without support.

“During my time on the council, I consistently raised this issue with party group leaders and council officers, but it happens year-on-year and nothing has been done about it,” he added.

“These pro-IRA chants at a festival which takes place on council land are an embarrassment to the council and the city.

“Feile claims that no council money funded, or has funded, these Wolfe Tones concerts directly, but they take place on council land as part of a festival that does receive council funding. This raises serious questions for the council because this sort of behaviour goes against Belfast City Council’s good relations strategy.

“The question of funding needs to be looked at in the future if no action is taken.

“I called on Feile to have mitigations against this prior to the concert in question, but clearly nothing has been done.

“The DUP on Belfast City Council cannot win a vote on this issue without the support of other parties.

“I would call on all those who oppose such eulogising of IRA terrorism to work together to ensure this never happens again. Feile organisers should also not include the Wolfe Tones on the programme of events in the future.”

The group’s appearance followed a concert by the band Kneecap, who unveiled a mural of a burning PSNI Land Rover in west Belfast on Friday.

Footage from the Wolfe Tones’ performance shows scores of young people and others chanting pro-IRA slogans.

It has been a problem for the festival for years, during which time hundreds of thousands of pounds in public money have gone towards it.

Asked about the chanting and funding for Feile, a Belfast City Council spokesperson said the festival received funding through multi-annual grant schemes to support a programme of 250-plus arts and cultural activities per year.

They added that the funding did not cover commercial events such as the Wolfe Tones and Kneecap concerts.

Feile an Phobail was contacted for a response.

After the festival, organisers said: “This year’s Feile [was] the biggest ever held. Around 100,000 people attended. It was a record year with record attendances across all our events.”

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