'annual amnesia' | 

Roisin Gorman: ‘The annual outrage over the band’s chorus raised some serious questions about sectarianism’

‘Ooh ah, it hasn’t gone away you know’

People walk past Irish language rap group Kneecap's mural of a burning police Land Rover on Hawthorn Street in Belfast. There have been calls for political leadership after a series of incidents across the weekend, including pro-IRA chants at a concert in west Belfast. The Wolfe Tones played their annual gig to close Feile an Phobail in west Belfast on Sunday evening. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire© PA

Sunday World

Has there ever been a more terrifying slogan than ‘ooh, ah up the RA?’

Nothing strikes fear more than a chant which starts with ‘ooh ah.’

The only thing scarier than the Wolfe Tones Celtic Symphony is Aqua’s Death to Barbie Girl or ABBA’s The Shinner Takes It All.

The annual outrage over the band’s chorus raised some serious questions about sectarianism, because to paraphrase Gerry Adams infamous 1995 speech, ‘ooh ah, it hasn’t gone away you know.’

Although footage from the concert – held during Feile but not publicly funded – was like watching a big bunch of teenagers get excited at hearing granny swearing. If any of them had experienced much of what the RA got up to, they’d probably have soiled their Under Armour.

After the gig the Tones 76-year-old lead singer Brian Warfield claimed the DUP were just being cranky when it called the event a ‘hate fest’.

No, the party knows an own goal when it sees one, and this one is served up on a plate every year, overshadowing the amazing events which make up the rest of Feile.

The party also develops sudden annual amnesia about the Belfast City Council funding for Feile which it enthusiastically embraces because your lot are getting this pile of cash and our lot are getting that pile of cash.

And every year it sparks an outbreak of ‘whataboutery’ not helped on this occasion by the Derry bonfire with pictures of the Queen, Paras flags and poppy wreaths. Because the way to address feeling disrespected by Twelfth bonfires with Irish tricolours and effigies of politicians is to carefully consider it and then do exactly the same thing.

Kneecap’s unveiling of a burning police jeep mural prior to their Feile gig was just a baffling throwback. Their fans are more likely to be worried about where their next Nike Air Max are coming from, but the clue to the band’s brand is in the name.

In the Wolfe Tones furore, the Charity Commission and Tourism Ireland have been dragged in to see if they should be taking action. Somewhere there’s a civil servant asking how come fixing sectarianism in a society blighted by years of division and violence is their problem.

The real words of wisdom came from Bishop Donal McKeown in response to the Derry bonfire who pointed out that ‘sectarianism actually benefits tribalism on the part of large parties.’

If we’re going to set a terrible example to our young people, we can’t then condemn them for copying what previous generations have done.

And the worst thing is I’m now agreeing with a bishop.


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