The Féile : at home and away

At six o’clock this evening in St Mary’s University College I’m going to be chairing a discussion of the  Palestinian people in general and in particular their circumstances in Gaza. The discussion is being sponsored by Trócaire The keynote speaker will be Tania Hary, Executive Director of GISHA, an Israeli not-for-profi organisation which works to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents.  Mohammed Azaiza, a GISHa field officer was due to speak, but was unable to travel because his UK visa wasn’t granted.

This event is only one of dozens which go to make up the Feile An Phobail in Belfast.  In some ways the Feile is a remarkable creation. It has (largely) moved the community from bonfire commemoration of internment to create one of the biggest festivals in Europe. If I’m in Ireland, I always make a point of attending a number of the Feile activities, particularly West Belfast Talks Back, which is on in St Louise’s College at  7.00 this evening. (Yes I know – I’m going to miss the first bit this year, owing to the Trocaire-sponsored event).

There are quite a number of things I admire about both Trócaire and the Feile An Phobail. Both insist on looking at humanity in general, not just the small portion of it we find cooped up in our North-East Nest (NEN). Commentators have in the past depicted West Belfast as an inward-looking area. Nothing could be further from the truth, and events like that on Gaza this evening confirm that.  Trócaire itself isn’t simply a charitable institution that collects contributions for use in the most deprived areas of the world:  it works to create justice in these areas,  since human avarice and brutality are often behind the hunger and poverty that the cameras catch.

It’s more than easy to turn our thoughts away from the wider world, especially those in need of support. But Irish people have an outstanding record in this regard. Whether it is that we have experienced injustice and repression ourselves for so many centuries, or whether we are capable of looking beyond the simplistic emotional images that sometimes come to us through our TV screens, it’s hard to say. But we do have a proud record on that – especially at a time when voices in Britain are calling for the ending of foreign aid and the confining of this funding to problems at home.

So yes, I do feel honoured to be asked to chair a Trócaire event and I feel equally honoured to be part of the Feile. I remember once reading an essay which defined an idiot as a person who is totally absorbed in self, ignoring the wider world (Yes, Virginia, it is the same root as ‘idiosyncracy’); and a lunatic as someone so focused on events far away (yes indeed, Virgina,  from the same root as lunar) that they ignore what is around them. The Feile organisers strike a splendid balance, where they have events which examine what’s happening at home  (for example another discussion in St Mary’s at 1.00 pm today, where my good friend Chris Donnelly and others will discussing the shrinking Unionist majority) and events far afield (my own event at  6.00 pm.)

For those of you with a long memory, I have one final and selfish reason for admiring the Feile: it has given me the opportunity to take £1,000 from a man who thought he could predict Sinn Féin’s future in the south.  Pardon me while I punch the air a bit and murmur “Yahoo!”




14 Responses to The Féile : at home and away

  1. Pointis August 9, 2017 at 9:11 am #

    I would love to go to that talk on Gaza/ Palestine as it is a struggle close to my heart but I live too far away.

    I think that Féile and Trócaire are great to be bringing these issues of global injustice to the ears of the rest of the world. Do you know if they are going to stream the event? I have been able to see parts of at least some of the talks given during Féile on periscope.

  2. Catholicus Nua August 9, 2017 at 11:51 am #

    Yes, Trocaire has adopted the anti-Israel line completely. One of the reasons I won’t give them any money.

    • fiosrach August 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

      Be aware that M&S are stocking Israeli potatoes.

    • Pointis August 9, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

      I am glad Catholicus Nua that you will be stopping your donation because I would be loath to be supporting an organisation which was itself taking contributions from those who would give succour to a state which practices racism and apartheid on a daily basis.

    • Colmán August 9, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

      Opposing brutality should be the norm Catholicus Nua. I’m sure that you would be just as horrified as anyone if you watch whole neighbourhoods being bombed out of existence, people thrown out of their homes to make way for new people, and children as young as ten being arrested and detained. Trócaire have went way up in my estimation.

    • dedeideoprofundis August 10, 2017 at 12:38 am #

      Oh lovely’ tell us why?

    • Pat Mc Ginley August 10, 2017 at 7:53 am #

      This isn’t anti-Israel. It’s anti the regime. That’s why many Israelis also condemn it. And many Jews worldwide condemn Zionism as a political movement which uses Judaism as a front and a powerful recruiting tool. Siding with the regime is siding with the oppressor against the oppressed and utterly shameful for anyone who claims to respect human rights and justice which you probably do, Catholicus Nua?

  3. Colmán August 9, 2017 at 2:26 pm #


  4. dedeideoprofundis August 10, 2017 at 12:41 am #

    Did he Part?

    • fiosrach August 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

      Please indicate to whom your post is directed,you tit.

  5. Pat Mc Ginley August 10, 2017 at 7:41 am #

    Excellent contribution last night, Jude. BDS, boycott, divest, sanction, worked in a apartheid South Africa despite shameful opposition from the U.S. and U.K. governments. It’s no surprise the U.S. government is now making it a criminal offence to support BDS since the powerful, wealthy Zionist lobby has a stranglehold on U.S. politics, media, etc. As a weapon in the fight for justice, BDS nonviolent resistance is highly effective worldwide and it renders Israel’s massively superior weaponry totally impotent as a means of defeating it. Keep up your great work on behalf of the most abused people on Earth, Jude, and much respect!

  6. Catholicus Nua August 11, 2017 at 9:51 am #

    Anti-semites out in force as usual. Won’t be happy until Israel is wiped out and Hamas dancing on their graves.

    • Colmán August 11, 2017 at 10:11 am #

      The Palestinians are also semites Catholicus Nua. Which would make you an . . .

  7. fiosrach August 11, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    Best answer I have seen in a long time, a Cholmáin.