Sunday 30 April 2017

Anger at sexual hint in Casement event

Fearghus Ó Conchúir and the dancers from 'Butterflies and Bones' at Féile Fáilte, a day-long celebration of dance on Banna Strand in honour of Roger Casement. Photo: Clare Keogh
Fearghus Ó Conchúir and the dancers from 'Butterflies and Bones' at Féile Fáilte, a day-long celebration of dance on Banna Strand in honour of Roger Casement. Photo: Clare Keogh
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Campaigners have expressed outrage at the involvement of partially-clad male dancers in a family-friendly 1916 event to honour the Irish patriot Roger Casement.

The row over the Féile Fáilte event in Kerry has been condemned as "offensive" to the family of the great human rights activist, whose 100th anniversary is marked today.

The dancers were wearing full-brief underpants, with two holes cut out on the backside, apparently in reference to Casement's sexuality.

Leading 1916 campaigner Councillor Frank O'Flynn said even partial nudity could not be condoned in such an event.

"I am shocked, to be honest," he declared with reference to the 'Butterflies and Bones - Roger Casement Project' in Kerry.

"There is absolutely no excuse for anything that could be seen as offensive to members of the audience and, even more importantly, to members of the Casement family," he said.

Cllr O'Flynn said he understood why some might argue about the importance of the symbolism involved, but he felt it was totally inappropriate to include anything in a work promoted as family-friendly that could offend younger audience members.

Cllr O'Flynn is the chairman of the Cork 1916 Project and was chairman of the General Liam Lynch Commemoration Committee for 21 years.

He was instrumental in the honours paid to 1916 patriot Thomas Kent, who was exhumed from the yard of Cork Prison and reburied in his family's vault in north Cork.

Cllr Toiréasa Ferris of Sinn Féin, who attended the Banna performance, insisted that she didn't consider the dance performance to be offensive but admitted that some parents may have felt it was unsuitable.

"The people next to me explained that the purpose of the production was possibly to place emphasis on Casement's alleged sexuality," she said.

"It was effective in showing how the courts tried to discredit him and the significance of the 'Black diaries'. It wasn't so uncomfortable that I felt I should take my kids away."

Artistic director Cian O'Brien said the overwhelming reaction to the one-day festival was positive.

"We understand that some people had difficulty with the content of the work," he said.

"However, a bare bottom is not legally defined as nudity and it was late at night."

Irish Independent

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