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Festival woes… June 12, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The criticism from some quarters at the Taoiseach opening the West Belfast Festival seems overdone. Arlene Foster is hardly in a position to complain having attended it herself in the past, but others criticisms appear to be – while on a personal level understandable – difficult to sustain. The reality of a conflict is something that shouldn’t be shied away from.

Critics rounded on Mr Varadkar over his decision to launch Féile an Phobail in west Belfast because it includes a talk by the leaders of the 1983 Maze Prison escape in which a prison officer was killed.

It seems unrealistic in the extreme to avoid engaging directly with that reality. And both in the current dispensation, the status quo ante (prior to the Brexit referendum) and any future dispensation the idea that somehow these cannot, will not and should not be discussed seems simply wrong. As long as the discussion is respectful of those who were killed it seems to me to be entirely legitimate. There’s a broader point which is that this history is painful, but that – and speaking as an historian myself – engagement with history in festivals is absolutely legitimate too, indeed necessary. If we want people to genuinely connect with their own history and that of those of other communities I can’t think of a better way of doing so. And in that process understanding and developing some empathy with others is possible.

And of course let’s not ignore the fact that Varadkar visited the Orange Order – hardly a less divisive meeting. Which by the way, I think he was right (and astute) to do.

Comments»

1. peaceandneutrality - June 12, 2018

WordStorm, I completely agree with you. I was in Derry for the first time in 20 years recently and visited the Siege Museum. I watched the video and it described victory in defeating the siege as a victory for civil and religious liberties.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2018

And did you get to the Bloody Sunday museum? that’s great too. A brilliant city isn’t it?

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Joe - June 12, 2018

Been to Derry a couple of times in the last ten years and I have to say that both times I was distinctly underwhelmed. Must check out those museums the next time.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2018

Ah, Joe, it’s the walls. It’s a wall thing isn’t it? 🙂

Did you not like the atmosphere, and the approach along the side of the river from the south east on a sunny day is something else.

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2. Joe - June 12, 2018

Leo was nearly mobbed by wellwishers when he visited the Orange museum – people looking for his autograph and taking selfies with him. That’s pretty cool – makes a change from ‘no surrender’ protesters.
In fact, the only protest he faced was from fundamentalist Catholics (protesting ostensibly about the ‘right to life of the unborn’) at the opening of Féile an Phobail.
Wouldn’t it be great if it could always be like this?

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2018

Agree completely. And somewhat less prominence was given to his visit to a LGBTQ bar too in Belfast on the day.

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3. An Sionnach Fionn - June 12, 2018

Outside of the DUP and TUV, it seemed like most of the “critics” were confined to the reporters and columnists of the Belfast Telegraph and those double-jobbing for the Sunday and Irish Independent.

RDE and E. Harris are looking distinctly uneasy these days. Was it Jim Molyneux who claimed that the IRA’s 1994 ceasefire was the worst thing that ever happened to unionists. I suspect that the British apologists in the Irish press wholeheartedly agree.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2018

I wonder if some think the second worst thing to happen since (I’m presuming Moyneux wasn’t entranced by the GFA) then is a new generation of FGers? Early days yet and a lot of road to go. Still.

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