Organisers must explain their position after young boy is handed a sub-machine gun by PSNI at Féile an Phobail ‘family fun day’.
After an appalling week for Féile and Phobail, which has seen a large and angry protest at the presence of PSNI chief constable George Hamilton. Belfast IRSP are calling on Féile an Phobail director Kevin Gamble to now also explain exactly why and how the PSNI were in a position to hand what appears to be a loaded sub-machine gun to a young child at a Féile hosted ‘Family fun day’ just this week.
Photographs obtained by the IRSP show a young child in control of what is clearly a PSNI weapon, alongside him stands another who appears to be wearing paramilitary garb of the political police force. In another photo the children are seen clearly playing inside the PSNI armoured jeep.
In what appears to be a repetition of a practice from decades gone by (wherein the British Army regularly allowed young children to handle their rifles) this move looks to be a carbon copy of that practice, the purpose being to win the hearts and minds of children from working class areas.
Speaking on the worrying development, Gerry Foster of Belfast IRSP stated….’It is quite clear from the pictures that these young children were cynically exploited by armed PSNI officers for political and tactical ends, this is an action straight out of the British Army hand book, it is very very wrong and will be criticised by all right thinking people’.
He further added ….’Féile organisers and not least Kevin Gamble its director, need to explain themselves to the people of West Belfast in the wake of these pictures. In the past years there has risen a justifiable perception, that the PSNI are being offered a priority place at Féile events, in order to normalise that force in line with Sinn Féin party policy. These pictures go some way to backing up that perception and it is up to Féile an Phobail to now distance themselves from the PSNI and the rational that lies behind their actions in the Falls Park this week.
In recent years Féile an Phobail has came under intense criticism from many who have objected to the profiteering nature of many of the events which occur under its title, and their inaccessibility to cash pressed local people in favour of pleasing an increasing middle class audience.
This latest clear attempt by the PSNi (a paramilitary police force currently engaged in gross miscarriages of Justice and abuses of Human rights) to use a family fun day in an attempt to ingratiate themselves amongst young children, raises questions which cannot be ignored.
1. Do Féile an Phobail actively encourage the PSNI to appear prominantly at their events?
2. If so then why is this the case?
3. If not will they be calling for the PSNI to stay away in the future and/or at least distance themselves from this gross and cynical attempt to exploit a young working class child?