Féile sponsors consider links to festival after IRA chanting

Organisers of the Féile an Phobail are coming under increasing pressure to address concerns around sectarianism after IRA chanting at the final night Wolfe Tones concert.

The videos circulating on social media showing pro-IRA chanting at the concert have also put a question mark over public funding for the wider festival.

Festival organisers have defended the concert but stopped short of condemning the chantings.

Kevin Gamble said: "The Wolfe Tones are one of Ireland's most famous musical bands." "They are popular with Irish people and the Irish diaspora across the world." "No public funding is received from any funders to pay for the Wolfe Tones concert." That justification around the funding hasn't been accepted by the Ulster Unionists. Deputy Leader Robbie Butler told UTV: "the public money is irrelevant because if the rest of the festival wasn't upheld by taxpayers money then the concert wouldn't happen, the whole thing is interlinked, its the keynote event.

"If there is no reflection and there is no concept this is an issue, then UUP will have to think seriously about attending future events and I couldn't see myself attending."

While public money may not have directly gone to the concert, there is pressure on organisations that fund the wider programme of events. Tourism NI says it will be "investigating the weekends events with a spokesperson saying funding clearly stipulates the responsibility to promote good relations......failure to do so may result in Tourism NI withdrawing all or part of our funding. " Translink sponsored and hosted a number of events throughout festival, however a spokesperson now says they are "seeking a meeting with organisers to review this situation". Meanwhile the Charity Commission says it is "aware of the current news regarding the Feile....and can confirm it is following up with the charity trustees". Alliance MP Stephen Farry says "any organisation that is spending public money and has to be accountable for that and when there are genuine questions being raised they have to be addressed." "I can appreciate public bodies don't want to get involved in what they perceive as politics." "We have to recognise pro-IRA chanting or other sectarian comments are beyond the pale and have to be taken into account." UTV also asked to speak to someone from Sinn Fein however no one was available. The Feile saw over 350 events across two weeks. This years was the biggest ever with over 100,000 people in attendance. Given the controversy this year many will be waiting to see what steps are taken by the organisers ahead of next year.

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