Thursday, August 02, 2012

Féile an Phobail (2 to 12 August)

Féile an Phobail - West Belfast Festival - logoNow in its 24th year, Féile an Phobail starts today and runs until 12 August. Sometimes referred to as the “West Belfast Festival” the festival offers a crammed programme of events: theatre, concerts, parties, exhibitions, sport, discussions and debates.

Some highlights I noticed in the programme. Unless stated otherwise the events are free.

Thursday 2 August

Let this be our secret in Falls Library at 5pm // Journalist and author Deric Henderson will be in conversation with Eamonn Mallie discussing his account of the “double murder by lovers Sunday School teacher Hazel Stewart and dentist Colin Howell”.

The ‘Workers Republic’ – An idea whose time has come? in St Mary’s University College at 6.30pm // James Connolly believed that a society free from divisions, borders and inequality could be created. Speakers Kieran Allen and Tommy McKearney will discuss whether it’s time to resurrect the idea.

Friday 3 August

Mary Black in Concert in Clonard Monastery at 8pm // Just say the words “Mary Black” and my brain replays her distinctive pure voice delivering the lyrics from songs from an old CD in my head. Older hits along with her new single ‘The Night Is On Our Side’ expected along with special guest Gerry Creen. Tickets £20.

Saturday 4 August

Walking Tour of East Belfast Murals starting at The Base (Albertbridge Road), 11am–1pm // Former Fianna Fáil Lord Mayor of Drogheda and historian Sean Collins will lead a walking tour around the murals in loyalist East Belfast.

The Ullans Academy – A personal journey in search of Cuchulaunn and the birth of the Irish tradition in Falls Library at noon // Chaired by media mogul and councillor Mairtin O’Muilleoir, former Lord Mayor Ian Adamson will talk about Ulster Scots culture and language, challenging the myths of separated communities and looking at the shared cultural and historical heritage.

Monday 6 August

Human Rights and Journalism in St Mary’s University College at noon // A panel of BBC Spotlight’s Mandy McAuley, The Detail’s Chris Moore and PA’s Steven McCaffery (about to move to work at The Detail) for Amnesty International’s annual Féile discussion. [Updated - my post about the event]

The Frank Cahill Memorial Lecture - The Legacy of the Ulster Covenant in The Mill theatre at 7.30pm // In the centenary year of the signing of the Ulster Covenant, Eamon McCann(socialist and activist), Tom Hartley (SF councillor) and Myrtle Hill (QUB) will look at the turbulent events of 1912 and their consequences.

Tuesday 7 August

The PJ McGrory Human Rights Lecture – Doreen Lawrence in St Mary’s University College at 7.30pm // Stephen Lawrence was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack in 1993. His mother – who was recently chosen by Danny Boyle to help carry in the Olympic flag at the London 2012 opening ceremony – will tell the story of her long fight for justice, exposing institutional racism, and finally seeing two men convicted for her son’s murder in January 2012.

Wednesday 8 August

Can We Afford Religion? in Roddy MacCorley Social Club at 1pm // An informal discussion organised by Father Des Wilson and Jack Duffin to investigate the implocations and consequences of religion upon our lives.

West Belfast Youth Talks Back in Whiterock Leisure Centre, 2pm–3.30pm // Stephen Nolan William Crawley will chair the debate around the theme of “Unemployed, jobless and skint: hope or despair for today’s youth”. Panellists will include junior minister Jennifer McCann (SF MLA) and Jonathan Bell (DUP MLA) as well as Gerry McKernan (businessman), Patricia Lewsley-Mooney (Children and Young People’s Commissioner).

West Belfast Talks Back in St Louise's Comprehensive College, 7.30pm–9pm // An annual lively debate with a panel of politicians answering questions from the floor. Chaired by Yvette Shapiro, panellists include George Galloway (RESPECT MP), Gerry Kelly (SF MLA). A ‘leading’ DUP politician Gregory Campbell (DUP MP/MLA) and commentator/historian Ruth Dudley Edwards are also now confirmed on the panel. [Updated - my post about the event]

Thursday 9 August

The Leveson Inquiry – Roy Greenslade in Falls Library at 1pm // Guardian media commentator, academic and republican supporter Roy Greenslade will unravel the comings and goings at the inquiry into the standards and practices of the British press and look at its implications for press freedom. [Updated - my post about the event]

‘New’ Belfast – What’s in it for us? in St Mary’s University College at 5pm // QUB’s Brian Kelly looks at the disenfranchised Belfast working class majority living in “a city where the free market allegedly ‘trumps’ sectarianism and five-star hotels ‘rescue’ us from poverty and unemployment”. Kelly rejects the neo-liberals’ new Belfast and “advocates a democratic city run for and by its working class majority.

The Ulster Covenant Revisited in St Oliver Plunkett Parish Hall at 7pm // In his book “Heal Not Lightly”, Harry Smith appealed “to the leaders of the Protestant Churches to identify the wrong actions of their forefathers in putting the Ulster Covenant in place and to dismantle it through repentance”. This talk by the former leader of the Christian Renewal Centre in Rostrevor highlights diverse opinions within the Protestant community.

Heroes with their Hands in the Air in Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich at 7.30pm // A “powerful interpretation of loss alongside the pursuit of justice” adapted into a play from Eamon McCann’s book “The Bloody Sunday Inquiry: The Families Speak Out”. Tickets £10 from Cultúrlann.

Friday 10 August

Speak Peace by Bronagh Lawson in St Mary’s University College at 1pm // Using art as a healing tool. Bronagh Lawson will discuss her learning from Chicago as well as 13 years spent working on development projects on Belfast peace lines.

And finally ...

Two hours tours of two cemeteries will happen daily at 1pm from Sunday 5 to Saturday 11 August.

Tom Hartley will lead tours around Belfast City Cemetery. It’s headstones tell the story of the city’s “industrial barons, its urban poor, its intellectual core and its soldiers of empire”.

And Pod Devenney will lead tours across at Milltown Cemetery. “The story of the dispossessed and of Irish revellion.”

Assemble at the front gates of either cemetery. Recommended to bring walking boots, warm clothing and light refreshments. £5 payable at front gate.

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