Pro-IRA chanting at Féile An Phobail festival in west Belfast condemned by unionists

Féile Organisers said 10,000 people were at the finale concert

Unionists have condemned the singing of a pro-IRA chant on the final night of the Feile 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.

The festival, which receives public funding, has been criticised in previous years when similar scenes occurred.

However, the director of Feile An Phobail said this year’s event had drawn record crowds and the festival “includes all opinions and provides a platform for many different views”.

DUP MLA Emma Little-Pengelly said the chanting at the event was the “shame of Belfast”.

She tweeted: “A final weekend drenched in squalid, vile sectarianism.

“Divisive, hurtful, with glorifying of terrorism.

“This isn’t progress – it is the shame of Belfast.

“There must, must be those who support the festival who are embarrassed by this cringe sectarian ending every year?”

TUV leader Jim Allister said the festival had degenerated into a “terror fest”.

He added: “The fact that shamefully the Charity Commission failed to act against such glorification of terror under the auspices of an organisation it continues to accept as a bona fide charity, guaranteed this deliberate insult to IRA victims.

“The fact that this festival continues to be lavishly funded from the public purse adds to the hurt and insult endured by the victims of terrorism.”

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “In August of last year, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland received concerns regarding the annual West Belfast Festival held by registered charity Feile An Phobail Limited.

“Having assessed the concerns raised, commissioners concluded that the charity, as a result of performances at the festival, had not contravened charity law.

“One of the concerned parties requested that the commission review its decision not to take regulatory action under its internal decision review process. The charity was advised of this request.

“The concerned party also requested that a specific question is referred to the Charity Tribunal under para 1 of Schedule 4 to the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.

“The concerned party has been advised that this request is currently being considered by the commission.

“While both requests are under consideration, it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.”

Feile an Phobail director Kevin Gamble said a record 120,000 people had attended events at this year’s festival.

He added: “Over the last 35 years, Feile has a proven track record of delivering significant social, cultural and economic benefits to the city of Belfast, and this increases year on year.

“This year, representatives from all communities were welcomed to Feile to have their voice heard, both as spectators and participants.

“All political persuasions attended and participated in various panel discussions, as did representatives from minority ethnic communities and international visitors.

“Feile an Phobail includes all opinions and provides a platform for many different views.”

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