A Kildare band accused of using “hate” speech during their set at a Belfast festival last weekend have said that their onstage comments were taken out of context.
Rebel band The Druids played the community-run Ardoyne Fleadh last Sunday night.
Video footage captured during their outdoor set showed vocalist Mick O’Brien commenting that “in the occupied six counties of Ireland there are still over five thousand British soldiers parading around the streets of Ireland as if they owned it”.
The Prosperous man was heard to further remark that “it’s about time that they all f***** off back to England”.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has received complaints about the incident, including from the Democratic Unionist Party, and is understood to be carrying out an investigation.
However, Mr O’Brien said on Tuesday afternoon that the band has not been contacted by the police force in connection with their appearance at the Fleadh.
“It’s been taken out of context a bit,” he told the Leinster Leader. “I suppose we are a republican band and our sentiments and our belief and our politics are that we should have a united Ireland.”
However, he said that the comments which have caused a storm of politican controversy in Northern Ireland “wouldn’t be our normal comments as such [during a gig], but again it is taken out of context. That was an isolated incident within our set,” he said.
Mr O’Brien confirmed that the band had not made any reference to the IRA during their performance.
The Druids were formed in 2008 from a collective of musicians based around Kildare. Since 2010, they have become popular on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, where they tour yearly.
They released their latest album, entitled ‘Freedom’, last March.
In an interview with the Leinster Leader at the time of that launch, Mr O’Brien said that while the band had previously supported local Sinn Fein candidates, it had made the decision to step away from becoming involved in party politics. “We believe that there should be a united Ireland through political means rather than through conflict.” he added.