Unionists have condemned instances of attendees singing "ooh, ah, up the RA," during the final night of Féile An Phobail in West Belfast last night, Sunday, August 13.
Attendees were filmed singing "Up the Ra" as The Wolfe Tones performed their song "Celtic Symphony" to some 10,000 people in Belfast's Falls Park on Sunday night.
Another video has now emerged of 'Up the Ra' chanting, this time during the 'Wolfe Tones' performance at the feile an phobail event in the Falls Park, Belfast. #CallItOut #StopTheHate pic.twitter.com/YH4uINZtUK— Richard Mckee (@mckee1690) August 13, 2023
Earlier on Sunday at Féile, the Irish rebel band Shebeen performed "The SAM Song," which saw audience members singing along to the lyrics: "Tiocfaidh ár lá, sing up the 'RA (Ooh, ah, up the 'RA! Sing ooh ah up the 'RA!)"
So the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland actually believe that this blatant and crass terror chanting at a publicly funded festival tonight, organised by a registered charity, is compatible with charity law?
In what other world would this be deemed acceptable? 👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/Uxp7yxi9Tp— Jonathan Buckley (@JBuckleyMLA) August 13, 2023
Condemnation of the songs was led by Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister and unionist activist Jamie Bryson, who both labeled the festival a "terror fest" and questioned the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland's support for the event.
“Once more the West Belfast Festival degenerated into a terror fest with its ‘Up the Ra’ finale," Allister said in a statement on Monday.
“The fact that shamefully the Charity Commission failed to act against such glorification of terror under the auspices of an organisation it continues to accept as a bona fide charity, guaranteed this deliberate insult to IRA victims.
“When the Charity Commission by its inaction sanctions such, rest assured there will be plenty of IRA acolytes ready to pay homage to the murdering Provos as a new generation is indoctrinated into the bloodthirsty cult of worshipping at the shrine of IRA terror.
“The fact that this festival continues to be lavishly funded from the public purse adds to the hurt and insult endured by the victims of terrorism.”
Bryson said on social media: "There issue here is not in fact that the West Belfast festival promote IRA terrorism, or that people in nationalist communities celebrate the murder of their neighbours. We expect no less.
"The issue is that the Charity Commission endorse it, and public bodies fund it."
In a statement issued via Bryson, Gary Murray, who lost his sister in the Shankill bombing in October 1993, condemned the pro-IRA chants, saying they "caused untold hurt and upset to victims of the IRA."
"The West Belfast festival once again knowingly organised a musical event in the Falls Park which engaged in the promotion and celebration of IRA terrorism," Murray said.
"This, as with every year, has caused untold hurt and upset to victims of the IRA."
"The actions of the West Belfast festival are predictable, however the real issue here is that they were given the green-light for these events by the Charity Commission."
The Charity Commission said in a statement on Monday that it had received "concerns" regarding the Féile event last August.
“Having assessed the concerns raised, commissioners concluded that the charity, as a result of performances at the festival, had not contravened charity law," the Commission said.
“One of the concerned parties requested that the commission review its decision not to take regulatory action under its internal decision review process. The charity was advised of this request.
“The concerned party also requested that a specific question is referred to the Charity Tribunal under para 1 of Schedule 4 to the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.
“The concerned party has been advised that this request is currently being considered by the commission.
“While both requests are under consideration, it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.”
Meanwhile, The Wolfe Tones thanked Féile organizers on Sunday night after their performance, saying "we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!"
On Monday, organizers celebrated what they called the "biggest and best Féile ever," which they said drew 120,000 visitors.
THE BIGGEST AND BEST FÉILE EVER!
This year you welcomed the world to West Belfast.
You danced and sang and laughed and enjoyed everything Féile has to offer.
Thank you for making Féile an Phobail the largest Community Arts Festival in Ireland.
You are all amazing! Féile Abu! pic.twitter.com/H7vxg1SWwV— Féile an Phobail (@FeileBelfast) August 14, 2023