Féile an Phobail 2000
BY PEADAR WHELAN
The thousands who took to the streets of West Belfast on Sunday for Féile an Phobail's carnival were let down somewhat by the weather.
But what's an occasional downpour whn there's partying to be done? Thousands made their way to the Falls Road to admire the many floats.
Of these, the impressive H Block float was the most political and its message, `For Sale' was pertinent given that Long Kesh holds only a couple of republican POWs at the minute.
other `topical' float was Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Topical in so far as a friend of mine who was visiting Belfast for the weekend was convinced that `Death', who was travelling in the coach, was none other than the British Queen Mother. He has a point, given that she's been bleeding people to death for a whole century now as part of the British ruling class.
If spirits were slightly dampened during the opening parade, the Féile Marquee experience on Saturday and Sunday nights more than made up for it. The Ceilidhgoers on Saturday with Bean a' Tí Bairbre De Brún had a great time with the Kilfenora Céilidh band.
Then on Sunday, there was the Afro-Cuban Allstars, famous from the Buena Vista Social Club in Cuba. Put on the world musical map by Ry Cooder, their music was brilliant. It entertained, got feet tapping, had people salsaing in the aisles and half the audience were on the tables including the aforementioned Health Minister.
The band from Zimbabwe who played support for the Cubans were brilliant and I'm sure will appear at next year's Féile in their own right.
Monday was an altogether different day for me. It was all exhibitions and `political' stuff.
St Mary's College on the Falls Road is housing art and cartoon exhibitions. Connor McGrady from Castlewellan in County Down, but now living in Chicago has his Legacy of Oppression collection on show.
His central theme is state violence but the series of three paintings influenced by the killing of 16-year-old James Morgan from outside Castlewellan depicts a young man brutally killed but maintaining throughout his sense of dignity.
It is graphic and shocking but that was the nature of James's death at the hands of a loyalist death squad in 1997.
The annual Frank Cahill lecture was delivered in the Conway Mill on Monday night. The event is organised by the West Belfast Economic Forum and this year Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna was in the chair.
She devoted a lot of her speech to `Green' subject matter, including the vital issue of waste management in a climate where the economic influence of large plastics industries often holds the key to whether waste is incinerated or not. Large industries do not take kindly to their profit margins being narrowed.
McKenna raised points that should be worrying to us in Ireland, especially as the Dublin government seems intent in getting into bed with NATO.
Sovereignty is on the line and in the North we are being sucked in the arms trade with corporations like Raytheon, the third largest arms manufacturer in e world, operating a plant in Derry.
The SDLP, who claimed the pacifist mantle so often in the context of the war in Ireland, seem tactically blind to the antics of Raytheon; it is because they are backing the plant on the grounds that ``a job is a job''.
Gerry Adams also spoke.
Wednesday's focus is mostly on the visiting Basque delegation and the International Food Fare (which is going on at the time of writing - so I'm missing the grub). The international music night is on in the Marquee, starring the Fermin Muguruza Brigade Sound System from the Basque Country.
The sparks should also be flying in St Louise's with West Belfast Talks Back. Appearing in the green corner will be our own Pat Doherty, the Sinn Féin vice President, and in the red, white and sticky corner will be Eoghain Harris. (Full reports next week. See also page 20)