Culture and Politics at the Feile this year…

The West Belfast Feile has finalised some the big literary and political events starting on Sunday week (ie 5th August). You can download the whole programme from here. For more details, you can contact the Feile office directly.

Ireland and Slavery – Victims, Heroes or Perpetrators?

St Mary’s University College

Monday 6th August, 1pm

In 1631 hundreds of inhabitants of Baltimore, Co. Cork were captured and brought as slaves to North Africa by Arab pirates.

In 1786 radicals in Belfast prevented the formation of a slave trading company in the town. Throughout the 18th century Belfast merchants benefited immensely from supply provisions for the Caribbean slave plantations. And today, Irish consumers benefit from the provision of goods produced by slave, bonded and child labour in Africa and Asia. So, how should we judge our relationship to slavery past and present – victims, heroes or perpetrators?

Speakers: Nini Rodgers, author of Ireland, Slavery and Anti-Slavery 1612-1865

Professor Bill Rolston, author of Encounters: How Racism Came to Ireland

Daniela Reale representing Save the Children Fund.

Recollection and Acknowledgement

St Mary’s University College

Tuesday 7th August, 3pm

Over a four-day period, following the introduction of internment-without-trial on 9th August 1971, the British army killed eleven people in the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast. The relatives of the dead have struggled for decades to establish the truth about the killings of their loved ones. Relatives for Justice will be supporting the families to hold an exhibition and discussion, which will hear from those families and eyewitnesses to the shootings. Their testimony will be given before an independent panel and audience and represents the families’ public process of seeking truth and acknowledgement.

The PJ McGrory Human Rights Lecture

St Mary’s University College

Tuesday 7th August, 7.30pm

‘My Life on Death Row’

Guest Speaker, Sunny Jacobs

Sunny Jacobs spent seventeen years in prison in Florida, including five in solitary confinement on Death Row, for murders she did not commit. When she was exonerated and released, it was too late for her husband who was executed for the same crimes before his innocence could be proven. Sunny’s extraordinary experiences and survival are the subject of the highly-acclaimed play Exhonerated, and she is the author of the best-selling book, Stolen Time, published last May. Sunny’s story is a powerful indictment of capital punishment. As well as regularly speaking out against the death penalty she works with young people to promote non-violent conflict resolution. Chair: Raymond McCartney MLA, former H-Block blanket man, former hunger striker, served seventeen years of a life sentence before his conviction was quashed in 2007 after a lengthy appeal.

My Own Country

The life of Robert Lynd by Sean McMahon

School Library, Christ Church Building,

Royal Belfast Academical Institution,

Wednesday 8th August, 1-2pm

Robert Lynd was born in North Belfast in 1879. His father, a Presbyterian minister was anti-Home Rule yet Robert, who was a pupil of Inst in Belfast, went on to become a fluent Irish speaker [he taught Roger Casement] and a member of Sinn Fein in London where he met Michael Collins. He wrote the introduction to Connolly’s Labour In Irish History and became a brilliant essayist and journalist. James Joyce and Norah Barnacle’s wedding lunch was held in Lynd’s London home. Yet, Lynd, who was opposed to physical force, never lost his affection for his fellow unionists. He died in 1949 and asked that he be buried in ‘my own country’. He was laid to rest in the City Cemetery on the Falls Road. George Bernard Shaw and Sean O’Casey wrote tributes to him, and at his funeral were former IRA chief of staff, Sean MacBride, and Lynd’s nephew, Robert Lowry, a future Lord Chief Justice. Local historian and writer, Sean McMahon, who edited and wrote the introduction to Galway of the Races, a representative selection from Lynd’s works is the guest speaker.

Introduction by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Chairman, R.B.A.I. Board of Governors

Chair: Joan Boyd, journalist and former BBC editor of Radio Ulster’s Talk Back award-winning programme.

Féile an Phobail presents

West Belfast Talks Back

St Louise’s Comprehensive College

Wednesday 8th August, 7.30pm

2007 at last saw the Northern Assembly established on a firm footing with the DUP and Sinn Fein sharing power – and having to face up to some tough local decisions The ramifications of last May’s general election in the South and what they mean for the North are also still to be fully realised. Tonight’s panellists discuss a range of issues from the local to the international, including policing. Speakers: Caitriona Ruane, Sinn Fein MLA, Minister for Education; Edwin Poots, DUP MLA, Minister of Culture, Arts & Leisure; Eoghan Harris, journalist and broadcaster; and Sir Des Rea, Chairman of the NI Policing Board.

Chair: BBC’s political correspondent, Martina Purdy.

The Trouble We’ve Seen – Women’s Stories from the North of Ireland

By Silvia Calamati

St Mary’s University College

Thursday 9th August, 1pm

Speakers, including Italian writer and journalist Silvia Calamati, will read from her book, The Trouble We’ve Seen, about the experiences of women whose husbands and relatives have been killed, whose children have been mutilated, who have spent years in prison and who have been blinded by plastic bullets. These stories speak of great sadness and loss, but they also speak of survival and struggle against threats, state oppression and economic and social marginalisation.

Chair: Christine Poland.

The Thirty Year War

– Journalism in the Changing Face of Conflict

St. Mary’s University College

Friday 10th August, 1pm

Veteran British journalist Peter Taylor has reported extensively on Ireland for thirty years, making more than fifty documentaries. He has written several books on the IRA, loyalist paramilitaries, the British army and the effect of conflict on families. His critically-acclaimed programmes, often the subject of controversy, threats of censorship and criticism from all sides, have been among the most informed on the Irish Question. In recent years he has also researched and presented up to a dozen documentaries on Al-Qaeda, including several Panorama Specials, and is undoubtedly the pre-eminent journalist in his field.

Chair: Dr Jude Collins, writer and broadcaster.

Sponsored by Belfast Media Group.

An Irish Eye

By Gerry Adams

St Mary’s University College

Saturday 11th August, 12 noon

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP in conversation with Anne Cadwallader at the launch of his new book of political writings (An Irish Eye) covering the IRA decision to formally end its armed campaign and to put its arms beyond use, to the Sinn Fein decision to support the policing and justice system. It also includes reflections on visits to the Basque country and to the Middle East and the politics of both.

“Gerry Adams is a skilled writer with a sound intellectual foundation for his political beliefs” – Time

Anne Cadwallader is a journalist with Independent Network News (INN) and writes for the Irish Echo (New York)

Scribes At The Rock,

The Rock Bar

Thursday 9th August, 4pm

A great line-up, as usual, so be sure to be there before doors close at 3.45pm sharp. Pay £3 at door.

Daniel Cassidy is the founder and co-director of the Irish Studies Program at New College of California in San Francisco. He has written for films and television and has worked with director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather; Apocalypse Now) and actor Danny Glover. His documentary Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs was nominated for an Emmy in 1997. Daniel has toured with his music all across North America, playing Carnegie Hall, as well as dive bars and juke joints from Brooklyn to San Francisco. His new book How the Irish Invented Slang: the Secret language of the Crossroads cuts through 200 years of Anglo-American baloney and reveals the massive hidden influence of the Irish language on American and English slang. This afternoon he will give us ‘the skinny’ (inside info) on how the Irish invented slang and might also sing a few songs if arm-twisted!
Annie McCartney is an actress and a successful writer of short stories, radio plays and the comedy drama series ‘Two Doors Down’ for BBC Radio 4, on which her current book is based. Annie is the author of two other novels, Desire Lines, and Your Cheatin’ Heart. She is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio Ulster and RTE. At Scribes Annie will be formally launching Two Doors Down and introducing us to characters such as Sally O’Neill who house keeps for (the class conscious) Edith Black, (Eco-friendly) Saffron McNamara and (highly-strung) Clare McDonald who all live on Marlborough Road. Sally is a confidante to all three women and their deepest secrets until …but that would be spoiling things! Come along and get your copies signed!

Geoff Gatt is a songwriter from West Belfast. He loves to perform and interact with an audience, and has done so in many forms over the last few years playing his diverse material at singer/songwriter nights, band events and recently in the form of a self-written musical, ‘Hippos in the Shower’. He loves to write about the unconventional: his songs tackle beards, lobsters and, of course, love. Together with his cheeky friends look forward to some Ukulele, some love and some laughs!

Levi Tafari, poet extraordinaire, has been exciting audiences for many years now not just in Britain but this year alone he has toured Spain, Portugal, Madeira and Hong Kong. Levi sees himself as an Urban Griot, the griot being the traditional consciousness raiser, storyteller, newscaster and political agitator. An important element of Levi’s work is visiting schools, colleges, universities and prisons running creative writing workshops, in the hope of inspiring a new generation of performance poets. His words move to a strong reggae beat, but it’s also very humorous. His work is rhythmic and lyrical and in the past he has teamed up with reggae, soul and funk fusion bands and has also spent two seasons as poet in residence with The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He will be reading from his work, including from his new collection of poetry, From the Page to the Stage.

An Irish Eye

By Gerry Adams

St Mary’s University College

Saturday 11th August, 12 noon

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP in conversation with Anne Cadwallader at the launch of his new book of political writings (An Irish Eye) covering the IRA decision to formally end its armed campaign and to put its arms beyond use, to the Sinn Fein decision to support the policing and justice system. It also includes reflections on visits to the Basque country and to the Middle East and the politics of both.

“Gerry Adams is a skilled writer with a sound intellectual foundation for his political beliefs” – Time

Anne Cadwallader is a journalist with Independent Network News (INN) and writes for the Irish Echo (New York)

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty