Is this what we are up against at a time of “peace”. Chants of “oh ah up the RA” and “F the Union Jack we want our country back” echoed across the Falls Park during the Council funded West Belfast Festival – Feile an Phobail (Festival of the People).
Many groups including our own work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in an attempt to steer our community in a more positive direction. As a group a big emphasis of our work would be directed toward impressionable young men and women who we are duty bound to educate about our past and help navigate and facilitate a brighter future.
Among the 10,000 strong crowd literally thousands of teenagers, who wouldn’t have been born during the conflict, waved pro-IRA flags shouting “And we will fight you for 800 more”. What is going on within their communities and homes? Are they being taught hatred and intolerance as opposed to respect and reconciliation? People are not born to hate.
“Of the people” meaning what exactly? According to Feile an Phobail, which this year marked its 30th anniversary, the organisation aims to “promote social inclusion and the celebration of diversity”. The festival director Kevin Gamble said: “This year, representatives from all communities were welcomed to Féile to have their voice heard. This covered a wide and diverse range of society.” I’m pretty confident members of the PUL community would not feel welcome whatsoever. In fact, i would go as far as saying any right and forward thinking people within their own community would not have felt comfortable in this environment.
It is an absolute outrage and one i hope is not a glimpse into this beautiful country’s future.