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Shell disappointed as Fleadh sponsorship returned

News

Maura Harrington
DECISION WELCOMED
?Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington.

Shell disappointed as Fleadh sponsorship returned



Anton McNulty

SHELL E&P Ireland (SEPIL) have expressed their disappointment by Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann’s decision to return sponsorship for this week’s Fleadh after musicians threatened to pull out of the annual event.
The annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which takes place in Sligo, was officially opened on Sunday by President Michael D Higgins amid controversy last week over sponsorship by Shell for the event.
The Standing Committee of Fleadh 2014 rejected sponsorship of the event by the oil giant after coming under pressure from the Shell to Sea group and musicians due to take part in the Fleadh.
Shell to Sea claimed that the organisers had put President Higgins in an ‘awkward position’ in opening the event after he had spoken out on a number of occasions before his election on the impact of the Shell development on local people.
A number of musicians also voiced their unease at the sponsorship and last week the organisers released a statement explaining they decided to return the sponsorship.
“In keeping with the ethos of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann as an inclusive, community-driven and family-focused event and to avoid unnecessary distractions on the eve of the festival, we have respectfully decided to return the financial support received from Shell.”
In response, Shell expressed their disappointment by the decision of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann Sligo to return the sponsorship.
“Our support for the 2014 Fleadh in Sligo is in keeping with our continuing investment in cultural, community and family events run by volunteers.
“SEPIL was approached by the organisers of the Sligo Fleadh in early 2014 to become an event sponsor.  We gladly accepted this invitation as it was building upon the support we had previously provided to the Mayo branch of Comhaltas when it hosted its Fleadh Cheoil in Ballycastle in 2009.”
Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington welcomed the decision saying the Fleadh committee were ‘shamed into returning the money’ after their press release ‘let the cat out of the bag’.
“Musicians and real Comhaltas supporters were disgusted when the news broke and, I’m sure, made their disgust known. We also respect the person and presidency of Michael D Higgins and we’re not prepared to see that compromised,” she said.
Renowned musician Gregory Daly who works at the Coleman Traditional Irish Music Centre in Gurteen also welcomed the reversal of the acceptance of Shell sponsorship.
“I was booked as a musician and also to give a talk at the Fleadh but when I became aware of the Shell sponsorship I decided not to take part. I told them that under no circumstances would I consider doing anything at the Fleadh under the banner of the Shell sponsorship. But now I am glad to hear that the offer has been rejected,” he said.
The Fleadh takes place over nine days and is the largest single festival of Irish music with attendances expected to reach close to 350,000, including 8,000 child and adult competitors.