In the recent weeks we have seen the fiasco surrounding the ‘community’ Féile. It’s important that people understand that there is always two sides to every story, well in this case three – Féile an Phobail, the media and the protesters.
I believe that An Féile can no longer be deemed a community festival, the reasoning behind that is simple, the involvement of the PSNI. The ‘Police Force’ that is endorsed by the festival is the same force that implements British rule within working class Nationalist/Republican communities and attacks anyone who dare challenge the status quo.
As a Socialist Republican, my natural instinct is to challenge the elite, corruption and this oppressive state. This places me, fellow comrades and like-minded thinkers in the headlights of the state and the PSNI. Political activists are subjected to vindictive harassment, our children terrorised and our homes raided for no other reason than for having a political opinion.
Using these tactics and through Anti-Terror legislation the PSNI can also arrest and intern activists – this has been a crucial weapon in Britain’s policies of Criminalisation and Normalisation which can be seen throughout Ireland’s history. For this reason An Féile segregates part of the community by extending invitations and endorsing the PSNI.
The points stated above is why I stand with the protesters opposed to PSNI involvement in An Féile. However, the way in which the protests/propaganda have been conducted has not been done so with dignity nor respect. The media has been quick to jump on the bandwagon and to exacerbate the issue. I fully understand that no threat has been made to An Féile or its staff, however how is possible for staff to not feel threatened?
A ‘Community Notice’ that was been issued throughout West Belfast could have easily turned the community against workers of An Féile who live within those areas, especially those who have had their names included. It also allowed the media to run rampant and to discredit the reasoning behind the protests. We should not let the media hinder us, nor should we worry about the lies and propaganda that it spouts, however we should worry about is the effect it can have on the very communities we are trying to protect, as members of the community may alienate themselves from the protesters. A revolutionary vehicle cannot be built on fear, or as a separate entity from the community – revolution is community.
I believe genuine discussion and dialogue is needed between the community, protesters and Féile an Phobail. Also there should be an attempt to gauge the possibility and likelihood of an alternative festival and whether or not this is feasible.