Fleadh Cheoil criticised for accepting Shell sponsorship

Shell to Sea claims Comhaltas put President in ‘awkward position’ in opening event

File image of the Fleadh Cheoil taking place in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

File image of the Fleadh Cheoil taking place in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann has been criticised for accepting sponsorship for next week’s Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann from oil company Shell, which has developed the gas field off Mayo and has been involved in long controversy over its onshore pipeline and plant.

The Shell to Sea campaign group claimed that Comhaltas had put President Michael D Higgins in the “awkward position” of formally opening an event sponsored by Shell.

It recalled that Mr Higgins had spoken out a number of times before his election on the impact of the Shell development on the lives of local people.

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the biggest traditional Irish music festival, invol- ving the participation of up to 12,000 performers. It is expected to draw an attendance of up to 250,000 to the week-long programme of events in Sligo next week.

The formal opening of the event by Mr Higgins takes place at 5pm next Sunday. Shell to Sea said it would protest against Shell’s sponsorship at the opening, from 2-6pm.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann said yesterday that sponsorship was a matter for the local committee in Sligo. Repeated efforts to contact the committee were unsuccessful.