As Kíla’s manager I have been helping Dee Armstrong with recent work she has undertaken with Palfest Ireland. Palfest Ireland is an organisation she set up with others to support Palestinian artists who are being silenced by the Israeli state.
On Friday night, 26th April, Mary Coughlan took part in a frankly bizarre and brief discussion on The Late Late Show about Eurovision 2019. She supports the boycott of the Eurovision in Israel this year and along with Kíla, Christy Moore, Frances Black and others, will participate in “Palestine – You’re a Vision”, a concert organised by Palfest Ireland, as an alternative to the Eurovision that will take place in Tel Aviv that same night.
Dee wrote an email to Ryan Tubridy expressing her concern about how this issue was handled on the Late Late show. I posted this letter to Kíla’s Facebook page this morning and am posting it here too as recognition of my own support for this issue.
Tickets for “Palfest – You’re a Vision” can be purchased from https://www.takeyourseats.ie/events/2019/5/18/palestine-youre-a-vision?fbclid=IwAR3F9ul3EEsBhh1Vq0t6WMopdLP_W8Fceb9vshkKHzdzRrJg4xbrQHonJ_4
In 2014 Israel bombed Gaza. The bombings killed thousands of people, including 556 children. In Ireland a group of artists spontaneously came together in horror and in an urge to do something to honour the childrens’ memory and in solidarity with their families and with Palestinian people everywhere.
PalFest Ireland was formed: a group of Irish artists and arts workers who wanted to give their work for free to this end and to work to amplify the voices of Palestinian artists, silenced by the Israeli state through censorship, harassment and outright violence.
As happened with apartheid South Africa – more and more artists are refusing to travel to Israel because of their consistent violations of human rights and human dignity. We support this cultural boycott of Israel as called for by Palestinian civil society. We call on RTE workers to stand with Palestinians call for solidarity in boycott and not travel to Israel to cover the Eurovision there. The Eurovision in Israel is not just a song contest – it is a PR exercise to whitewash an Apartheid state that is killing unarmed Palestinians.
We ask you not to travel because Palestinians of all ages have asked us to support their peaceful struggle by boycotting Israel until it complies with international law.
On May 18th in The National Stadium Bar PalFest Ireland is presenting ‘Palestine – You’re a Vision!’ an apartheid-free alternative to the Eurovision with artists Christy Moore, Charlie McGettigan, Frances Black, Donal Lunny, Farah Elle, Kíla, Avoca Reaction, Mary Coughlan, Sky Atlas, Jinx Lennon, Honor Heffernan and Trevor Knight Band, Mick Blake, Katie Laffan Free Speaking Mionkey and many more.
We’re doing this event to not allow Israel to whitewash it’s crimes against the Palestinian people and to let Palestinian artists know that Irish artists stand in solidarity with them whether they are under occupation, under siege or in exile.
Please think again Ryan. Have a proper debate on this issue. You gave respect and time to the people with Autism on the Late Late last night, and it was wonderful to watch. You afforded them dignity and time. The same time and humanity should be shown to the people of Palestine, who suffer daily under an apartheid system. Please have a proper debate on your show, not just about the Eurovision, which is just a flash in the pan, but a debate about what is actually happening there, and how Ireland as a nation could offer real help and solidarity. These are real people. This is real suffering. It should not continue to be dismissed. The national broadcaster should have the courage and dignity to give time to difficult issues.
Abuse of human rights in any country should be of the greatest concern for us here in Ireland. We should not stand by and pretend these abuses are not happening for the sake of politics or PR. I personally was ashamed of the way you and RTE handled the “discussion” on the Eurovision last night. It was cowardly, inane and depressing.
Deirdre Armstrong, Musician, Artist.