Saturday 22 October 2016

Frankie Boyle Belfast show protests to go ahead

Published 30/07/2015 | 17:22

Demonstrations against Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle's appearance in west Belfast following his jokes about the disabled are set to go ahead.

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Boyle will attend the West Belfast Festival next week for a sell-out show in Falls Park.

The Glasgow comic's quips about children with Down's syndrome and disabled people created a chasm within the republican community.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the comedian was the right type of act for the festival. But Belfast councillor Tom Hartley, whose brother Stephen has Down's syndrome, objected.

Talks have been held between the festival and a lobby group against Boyle's presence, Feile For All, which included families with children who have Down's syndrome.

A petition signed by 1,500 people said: "By allowing Frankie Boyle to be a part of the Feile, this is suggesting that those most vulnerable in our society do not deserve the same equality as the rest of the community.

"We hope that Feile an Phobail reconsider their decision."

The mother of a 12-year-old girl with Down's syndrome has invited Boyle to meet her daughter and said she was disappointed the festival had supported him.

Organisers and the protesters reached a compromise on Wednesday night, with management apologising for any offence and Feile for All agreeing to call off its demonstration.

But John Lundy, whose family had fronted the campaign, said he would "continue to stand with those people who agree that mocking the disabled is wrong".

Boyle's appearance is one of the headline shows of the festival. He is appearing in the marquee in the Falls Park on Friday of next week in a performance that has already sold more than 2,000 tickets.

The criticism followed a routine he performed in Reading in England in 2010 that featured references to children with Down's syndrome. Boyle has appeared in Belfast since then without any protests, but not at the publicly funded festival.

A spokesman for the feile said: "Feile an Phobail finds the mocking of the disabled totally unacceptable. Going forward, a number of ideas were jointly posited by Feile and the Feile For All group, which included a range of effective measures that Feile would put in place to avoid a situation like this arising in the future."

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