SF defends St Patrick’s Day web concert against Christian criticism
Sinn Fein has said that the republican hunger strikers are “held in high regard across the world” as the party rebuffed criticism of its online St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The party had put together a 90-minute entertainment show to mark the Irish patron saint’s annual day of honour, including music from the offspring of senior Sinn Fein figures, and contributions from political figures in the Basque country and Palestine.
Alan Lewis, Ulster Unionist councillor for the Slieve Croob area of Co Down, had condemned the show, and questioned what its contents had to do with a sainted Christian missionary.
The show, titled ‘St Patrick’s Day Online Concert for a United Ireland’ featured contributions from a variety of artists, including singers Cara McGuinness, grand-daughter of Martin, and Niamh McElduff, daughter of Sinn Fein councillor and former MP Barry.
Gerry Adams offered a tribute to the hunger strikers, and best St Patrick’s Day wishes were offered by Arnaldo Otegi, a Basque seperatist and former kidnapper, and Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian politician.
Mr Lewis hit out at the show, saying “as all traditions, religions, nationalities and creeds came together to celebrate the Christian message behind St Patrick’s Day, Sinn Fein once again showed the world how they are prepared to hijack proceedings” for political purposes.
He asked what the contents of the show, particularly Mr Adams’ praise for the hunger strikers, “had to do with St Patrick or Christianity”.
He added: “St Patrick’s Day shouldn’t be about the green white or orange, it’s about the glory of the Gospel.”
He also worried for Northern Ireland’s reputation, saying the show would an “embarrassment” for the Province if foreign viewer watched it.
Sinn Fein responded by saying: “St Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world and this year, in line with public health advice, Sinn Fein hosted a celebration of Irish culture and identity online featuring contributions from across the island, the Irish diaspora and others across the globe.
“This celebration of culture and history showcased the talents of world-renowned and aspiring musicians and was watched by tens of thousands of people worldwide.
“The hunger strikers are held in high regard by many in the nationalist and republican community across Ireland and across the world.
“Everyone has a right to remember their dead in a dignified and respectful manner.”
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