11 July 2002 Edition

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Six, Fisk and the Harlem Gospel Choir... It could only be Féile an Phobail

Last week, Gerry Adams officially launched the programme for this year's 15th West Belfast Féile. In his address, the Sinn Féin President praised the work of the Féile Committee over the years. He reminded his audience of the origins of the popular festival in the dark days of 1988, when nationalist communities throughout the North, but particularly in West Belfast, were being demonised by a hostile press.

Fifteen years on, the bright side of the nationalist experience is being highlighted in an ever-expanding programme of events that is local, national and international.

Féile has a new director, Carol Jackson, and she announced that "this year's action packed programme once again makes Féile an Phobáil Europe's leading and most dynamic international and community festival.

"Our unique, inclusive and progressive range of events reinforces this as the August Féile programme provides a range of local and international events to suit all tastes," said Jackson.

As usual, this year's Féile has everything from biting drama to the most laid back entertainment.

Stepping Out of Line is a powerful piece chronicling the harassment Patrick Shanaghan faced from the Crown forces in the run up to his assassination by loyalists and his family's subsequent fight for justice in the European Court.

Working Class Heroes, an adaptation by Brenda Murphy of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, is Dubbeljoint's latest offering.

Musically, we have the Harlem Gospel Choir in Clonard Monastery, Mose fan Fan and the Bhundu Boys on International Night, while Six and Bellefire are the latest teen pop sensations to visit West Belfast.

The Irish Women artists gig will feature Sharon Shannon, Juliet Turner and Maria Doyle Kennedy.

There will be the usual exhibitions, tours and of course the Carnival will brighten the place up on Sunday 4 August as it makes its way from Albert Street to the Falls Park.

The eyecatcher among the political debates and discussions is a talk by Robert Fisk, whose reporting from the Middle East combines dispassionate analysis and profound empathy for human suffering. He speaks to the subject, 'Witness September 11: Ask who did it but for heaven's sake don't ask why'.

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