Sinn Fein President and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has praised all of those involved in the west Belfast festival, including a hurling event in the grounds of the Six-County Assembly at Stormont.
“Feile an Phobail has grown into one of the biggest community festivals in Europe. This weeks Feile has been a brilliant mix of politics, entertainment, sport and debate. Thousands of people have passed through West Belfast in the course of the past seven days,” Mr Adams said.
“I wish to pay tribute to the staff and organisers of the Feile for their work in showcasing the West Belfast community and delivering a magnificent programme of events in this years programme.”
Among the highlights of the events was the ‘Poc Fada’ at Stormont, an event intended to make northern Catholics more comfortable in the grounds of the Six-County Assembly.
Mr Adams came up with the idea to relocate the Feile an Phobail event from west Belfast to the lawns or Parliament Buildings and it attracted a team of politicians, media figures and intercounty hurling stars.
The ‘celebrity’ event was won by BBC sports presenter Mark Sidebottom, while the senior title - contested by some or the top hurling names in the country - was taken by Down goalkeeper Graham Clarke, also a winner at a similar event in the Cooley Mountains the previous weekend.
Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff said together with children’s events, the ‘Poc ar an gCnoc’ (puck on the hill) had helped open up Stormont’s grounds to people across Ireland.
“I was told that 640 people went through the doors of Parliament Buildings on Saturday to avail of guided tours,” he said.
“Gaels sometimes resist the notion of going to Stormont because of its political past but this event helped to make Stormont more accessible. People are starting to take collective ownership of what’s going on there.”
Mr Adams named the ‘poc fada’ trophy after Edward Carson - the late notorious unionist leader whose statue looms large in the grounds of Stormont Castle - after learning that Carson played ‘hurley’, akin to hurling, in his student days at Trinity College Dublin.