PSNI PROBE ‘HATE SPEECH’ AT ARDOYNE FLEADH

Folk group The Druids spark a row at Ardoyne Fleadh

Folk group The Druids spark a row at Ardoyne Fleadh

POLICE have launched an investigation into two complaints over the Ardoyne Fleadh in north Belfast.

It follows complaints that a band playing at the festival made a “hate speech” attacking the Orange Order and British soldiers on Sunday night.

Folk group The Druids were recorded on video at the event with one member describing Northern Ireland as the “Occupied Six Counties”.

He later told the audience that British soldiers in Ireland “should get together with their Orange comrades” and go back to England.

The DUP branded the remarks as a “glorification of terrorism” and called for public funding for the festival to be pulled.

The party along with Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) made formal complaints to the PSNI in north Belfast.

Councillor Lee Reynolds, leader of the DUP on Belfast City Council, said the comments were “hate speech” and “incitement to hatred”.

“Their introductions to their songs, parts of the songs and also the songs that they chose to play were deeply offensive,” he said.

“We understand this event received a range of public funding. We believe that the actions of last night justify the withdrawal of that funding and also the withdrawal of sponsorship,” he said.

“As regards these concerts, they have continually been raised as a problem and the complaints about them have been ignored by the organisers.

“What happened on Sunday night was bound to happen. We had already opposed licensing of this event.”

No ratepayers cash was used to support the event, say Belfast City Council. The major funders were Ladbrokes bookmakers and The Flax Trust.

The Community Relations Council supported the even to the tune of £5,000 – with £2,5000 paid up front for festival infrastructure and rest the event following a review.

Organisers of the Fleadh – which attracted upwards of 15,000 people over several days – said they “regretted any offence” caused by the remarks.

SDLP MLA Alban Maginniss said the remarks were “offensive” but said the comments of one act should not affect any future funding.

“I don’t think that abandoning funding or suspending funding is a good step forward. It would be short-sighted.

“I do think that anybody who speaks so offensively in relation to the Protestant community, the loyalist community or, indeed, the Orange, is being intolerant.”

Police in north Belfast are currently reviewing footage of The Druids and the remarks made by a band member before making its next move.

It is expected the singer will be interviewed and a file forward to the Public Prosecution Service as to whether to bring criminal charges.

 

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