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Lowering the Tones Young people filmed chanting 'IRA' at Wolfe Tones gig in Belfast

Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister says DUP are partly to blame for taking part in 'sectarian carve-up' of funding


The Wolfe Tones playing at the festival on Sunday evening

The Wolfe Tones playing at the festival on Sunday evening

The Wolfe Tones playing at the festival on Sunday evening

A DUP politician has slammed video footage which appears to show young people chanting pro-IRA slogans at this year’s Belfast Féile an Phobail festival in west Belfast.

The incident happened as some of the audience began the chant during a Wolfe Tones concert on Sunday night, the final night of the festival.

People were heard chanting “the I, the I, the IRA” along to the music, with young people among those near the front row joining in.

The chanting has exacerbated a row over funding for the festival, with the DUP saying public funding should not be used for events in which alleged sectarian chanting takes place.

The DUP’s Brian Kingston said public funding should be withdrawn from the event after the footage emerged.

He said: "The PIRA murdered and maimed thousands of people in Northern Ireland. For concert goers to celebrate the PIRA is sickening. If public funding was used to pay for such a concert then it should be recouped immediately.

"Belfast City Council stands for inclusiveness and a shared future. If people wish to sing about the PIRA, they should forgo the ability to receive any public money.

"For the council to be associated with such offensive behaviour on the anniversary of the Omagh Bomb is disgusting and reprehensible.

"I will also be investigating what other commercial sponsors were involved in the event and asking them to publicly distance themselves.

"This is now an annual tradition where every year hundreds of teenagers, led by people who should know better, glorify the PIRA in song."

Meanwhile, Jim Gamble, a former senior PSNI officer who now specialises in child protection work, said: "If this was an event elsewhere and related to singing about the UVF there'd rightly be outrage. So disappointing, divisive, totally predictable and unnecessary."

Meanwhile, Alliance party councillor Nuala McAllister said the DUP are partly to blame for the situation, accusing the party of taking part in a “sectarian carve-up” when it comes to funding.

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“Sinn Fein and the DUP have consistently worked together on numerous sectarian carve-ups along nationalist-unionist lines in council,” she said.

She argued there was a consensus that the DUP have to “keep Sinn Féin happy” when it comes to public funding as there are groups the DUP wants to receive public money as well.

However, Ms McAllister also criticised the footage, saying: “We [Alliance] condemn the chanting and some people say it’s fine because it’s the nationalist community. It’s not fine at all because it’s in one particular community.

“Féile need to take more of a proactive approach rather than basking in the success of their programme.”

A spokesperson for the festival said it was a “record year with record attendances” that was “unsurpassed in the history of Féile an Phobail."

They added: “Our three large outdoor concerts sold out. Our three comedy nights sold out. Our in-person literary events sold out. Our Féile Fight Night sold out.”

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