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Disability Groups Call For Cancellation Of Frankie Boyle Belfast Festival Gig

July 27, 2015

Longtime readers will know that Same Difference covered the 2010 incident mentioned in this article. We have strongly dislliked Frankie Boyle ever since and fully support the calls for this gig to be cancelled.

A group calling for a Belfast show by comedian Frankie Boyle to be cancelled has said his jokes “poke fun at and mock children with disabilities”.

The controversial Scot is due to perform at the part-publicly funded Féile an Phobail next month.

Festival organisers have said it is the fastest-selling comedy gig they have ever put on.

But opponents are demanding that it is cancelled because of jokes Boyle has told about people with Down’s syndrome.

The mother of a girl with the condition said that during a live show in 2010 he had “made fun of the way people with Down’s syndrome speak” and “made a number of references to people with Down’s syndrome dying early”.

A group of parents of children with disabilities and a number of disability charities say they have the support of thousands of people in calling for the comedian’s appearance at the festival to be scrapped.

And the Belfast Telegraph has reported that one of the founding members of Féile an Phobail, the former Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast Tom Hartley, has become the first high-profile figure to publicly oppose the show.

His brother Stephen has Down’s syndrome.


Johnny Lundy, of Féile for Everyone, the group objecting to the show on 7 August, accused the festival of hypocrisy over booking Mr Boyle.

“I don’t think its acceptable at a community festival whose claim or remit is that it’s a community for all and its disability awareness is second-to-none,” he said.

“It’s hypocritical to make that claim and then have somebody like Frankie Boyle appear at it.

“This is a community festival, it’s part funded by public money, and it is seeking to mock one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

“I object to my money being used to make my daughter and others like her the butt of his jokes.”

A protest against the gig was held outside Féile an Phobail’s offices in west Belfast on Friday, and the objectors are due to meet festival representatives on Monday.

A spokesman for the festival said organisers had already met with “concerned individuals and groups”, including learning disability charity Mencap, to “discuss their concerns around the performance”.

“We’re looking forward to meeting this group and hearing what they have to say,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman added that he did not wish to comment further until after the meeting.


Around 2,000 tickets have already been sold and the festival is expecting a capacity crowd of 2,500 at the show.

Spiked Magazine’s Tom Slater said Boyle “is not some sort of anti-disabilist hate-preacher”, and said the opposition to his show was hysterical.

“He is not going around inciting violence,” Mr Slater said.

“He is going around making very crass, very unpleasant jokes that a lot of people, quite rightly, are upset by.

“We need to make a distinction.

“I think we need to get some kind of perspective on this kind of alarmist rhetoric of whereby we see any kind of offensive statement as potentially damaging.”

The BBC has contacted Frankie Boyle’s representatives but has yet to receive a response.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dino permalink
    July 27, 2015 3:56 pm

    Pfffffff….. All this re one joke he told five years ago? Each to their own ‘n all but, as a disabled person, I’ve got real actual problems without needing to concoct new windmills at which to tilt. Frankie Boyle deals in grotesque shtick. He’s all about prodding raw nerves and going beyond the knuckle. No likey? No buy tickety. His actual political stances are mostly laudable. Frankie Boyle is not the enemy and vilifying him wont improve the lot of any disabled people. Go after the real problems.

  2. July 28, 2015 8:34 am

    It’s a shame really because Boyle is one of those who bravely speaks out about a myriad of injustices that have been foisted onto the British people. You only have to find Chunky Mark’s (artist taxi driver) many interviews with him to know what sort of person he is and how he speaks out about such injustices. He even explains why his ‘jokes’ are ott at times, more to expose the audiences’ bigotry than anything else.

    Whilst it’s never ok to ridicule the disabled – and I’ve had plenty of that – I think he’s had a raw deal overall. I also think that he’s toned down some of his earlier stuff, perhaps realising that you can be too cynical for some.

    And he’s not alone. When the Jimmy Saville issue became public, programmes like ‘Have I Got News For You’, ‘Mock the Week’, and many other prominent comedy programmes thought it was OK to make fun of it; they are not only STILL doing it, but the AUDIENCES laugh along with them. IT IS NO JOKE AND IS DISGUSTING TO ANY FAMILY THAT HAS BEEN SUBJECTED TO ABUSE. Yet it’s OK for them to continue to make fun out of CSA?

    It seems like there are double standards here then. Boyle has publicly apologised for his jokes that offended people, and was punished by being taken off any BBC programming for some years, though recently he’s returned with his post election show. But what about the CSA jokes? Well, as above, comedians on the BBC and elsewhere continue to think that it’s a subject to make a good laugh.

    People make mistakes – we all have – and if they learn from them they shouldn’t be vilified for the rest of their lives. I certainly don’t hold grudges towards those who have done similar things to me; in fact, one of them when they became ill said that they now understood how I felt. Similarly, my family was destroyed by CSA, but I still watch some of the shows because the whole content isn’t directed towards that, and I view the people making such jibes as ignorant; I just wish they would stop nevertheless!

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