Republican News · Thursday 18 January 2001

[An Phoblacht]

Perverse diversity at the Odyssey

Nationalists attending a `cultural diversity' show in Belfast's Odyssey Arena on Sunday 14 January, expressed disgust at the presence of the RUC band.

The `Northern Ireland' Millennium Company, which organised the event, made no mention of the RUC in their invitation, Sinn Féin Assembly member for West Tyrone, Barry McElduff pointed out angrily.

McElduff, who sits on the Assembly's Arts and Culture Committee, attended the show in his capacity as Sinn Féin spokesperson on Arts and Culture. He told An Phoblacht, ``I was more than happy to go along in the spirit of cultural diversity. I was willing to embrace the event but in the end I felt cheated, as did a lot of other people, that the show was so one sided.

``There was no Irish used and the presenters kept referring to `Northern Ireland'. It was as if there was nothing south of Newry. The last straw was when the RUC band, accompanied by Garda band came on stage'', stated McElduff.

The Assembly member said that he and a lot of other people walked out. ``We were really angry about this. You go to a `cultural diversity' event and you get hit up the face with the RUC.'' McElduff said he asked to talk to the organisers to raise his concerns, only to be told they had gone to the Hilton Hotel for a reception.

He rubbished the organisers' claim that there was balance in the show because there was Irish dancing and Irish traditional music.

``This was a token gesture given there were about six loyalist bands as well as the RUC. A woman schoolteacher from Armagh said to me `all that was missing was Johnny Adair'. I think her remark sums up the night.''

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