'song and culture' | 

Wolfe Tones frontman defends criticism over IRA chants at Belfast Feile gig

"They might give titles and medals back to the people who killed for England over the years . .. What we do is we give them a song in their memory"

The Wolfe Tones perform at Feile in the Falls Park© Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Eimear McGovernBelfast Telegraph

Wolfe Tones frontman Brian Warfield has criticised the DUP for their condemnation of the band's "hate fest" concert at Belfast's Feile an Phobail but not "cranking about the bonfires on Shankill Road".

It follows condemnation of the band's gig on Sunday at the festival where concert-goers sang "oh, ah, up the Ra" to the song Celtic Symphony.

In the Irish Daily Star, Mr Warfield said: "We're entitled to our own song and culture.

"They might give titles and medals back to the people who killed for England over the years - Sir or Lord this - but we don't give titles to the Irish people that fought for freedom. What we do is we give them a song in their memory."

DUP MLA Emma Little-Pengelly, after branding the concert a "hate fest", called on organisations who support the festival to voice their position on the chants.

"Public money cannot be used to fund an event which year after year spend hours glorifying the terrorism of the PIRA (Provisional Irish Republic Army).

"Any organisation is entitled to apply for any grant but there are always conditions attached to funding."

She added: "Central to many grant awards is a commitment to good relations. This festival has set good relations back decades for tens of thousands of teenagers. Rather than moving Northern Ireland forward, this festival is dragging us backwards."

Tourism NI, which has responsibility for funding Féile an Phobail, has said it is investigating the matter.

DUP Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said he has “confidence” that Tourism NI will ensure “public funding is not granted to any organisation that disregards conditions contained within Letters of Offer.”

In a statement Kevin Gamble, the director of the festival, said the Wolfe Tones concert does not receive public funding.

Mr Warfield said such calls came every year and pointed towards funding going towards bonfires for the Twelfth in unionist areas.

He said: "Remember that people are allowed to have their heroes. One song out of the whole evening describes me walking through Glasgow and graffiti on the wall I saw said: "Oh, ah, up the Ra."

He added: "Once again the cranks are out, they come out after every concert we do. This has happened to us since the 60s," he said.

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