Revealed: Festival marked by IRA flags and chants got extra public cash in 2018

A screen grab from the video showing IRA flags being displayed in the crowd at a music concert marking the end of Feile an Phobail 2018.
A screen grab from the video showing IRA flags being displayed in the crowd at a music concert marking the end of Feile an Phobail 2018.

Feile an Phobail was granted an additional £280,000 of ratepayers’ money this year to help it meet costs related to its 30th anniversary and to stage a “diversionary event programme” for young people, Belfast City Council said.

The local authority has now provided details of the amount of funding it gave the festival – generally known as the West Belfast Festival, but also as the Festival of the People – over the preceding three years.

There have been calls for the council to rethink thbacking it gives to the festival after videos emerged on social media of people waving IRA flags and chanting ‘Ooh ah up the RA’ at the closing concert in Falls Park on Sunday night.

According to the council, it gave the festival £357,000 this year – significantly more than in previous years.

Last year the amount of funding given to Feile was £99,000.

In 2016 it was £110,000, and in 2015 a total of £165,000.

Asked why the funding allocation was so much higher this year, a council spokesperson said: “This year’s funding arrangement is higher than previous years as this year included an additional £280,000, £100,000 of which was approved by Strategic Policy & Resources Committee as part of a restricted paper [a document withheld for commercial sensitivity] in May 2018.

“This related to a specific diversionary event programme held on August 8. The remaining £180,000 related to the 30th anniversary.”

The diversionary programme on August 8 was a Planet Love dance music event in Falls Park, which featured a line-up of international DJs.

The free event for young people aged 16-plus has been hailed a great success by the organisers, who claim this was the first year since 1971 that there were no bonfires in Belfast on August 8.