Christy Moore is among those playing gigs coinciding with the song contest final on Saturday, writes Ellie O’Byrne.
CHRISTY Moore has spoken out about why he is performing at one of a number of musical events being staged around the country timed to coincide with RTÉ’s broadcast of the Eurovision final in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
Moore will perform alongside former Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan, Senator Frances Black, Kíla, Donal Lunny and a selection of emerging acts at the Palestine – You’re A Vision gig in the National Stadium bar, at the same time as finalists in Eurovision 2019 take to the stage in Israel. Other events include a similar gig at the Roundy in Cork.
“I support the people of Palestine in their struggle against the occupation of their country by the might and power of Israeli military forces,” the folk singer says.
Calls for a boycott of this year’s event, headed up by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, starting shortly after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai’s win at the final in Lisbon in 2018.
Members of the Boycott Eurovision campaign are calling for Irish Eurovision fans not to boost RTÉ viewing figures by tuning in to the world’s largest musical event.
The beginning of the Eurovision rehearsals last week was marked by an exchange of rockets and airstrikes between Palestinian groups and the Israeli army, which killed 23 Palestinians and four Israelis.
The head of the Irish Eurovision delegation, RTÉ executive producer Michael Kealy, argued that a cultural boycott is inappropriate, that RTÉ must avoid bias, and that the Eurovision is solely about music and is not a political event.
“These are the same arguments cited by those who were critical of the Anti-Apartheid movement, of the Dunnes Stores women, of many different struggles across the years where artists stood up in protest against oppression,” Moore responds.
The 74-year-old singer has supported numerous political causes throughout his career, including the hunger strikes in the North and the anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s. He dedicated his 2005 album, Burning Times, to the memory of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting in Gaza.
Moore says that, while he can see that music and politics may be separable for some people, to him they will always be linked.
“I follow my own heart and instinct,” he says. “I’ve always used my given gift of song to sing for oppressed people, wherever and whenever I happen upon what I perceive to be injustice.”
Other alternative Eurovision events are being held in Cork, Galway, Derry and Clonmel, and at Dublin gay bar Street 66, where organisers say the Israeli government is engaged in a “shameful pinkwashing strategy” and using an LGBT-friendly image to mask human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories.
Cork event A Song For Palestine is being hosted by musician and DJ Caoilian Sherlock, frontman with indie rockers the Shaker Hymn.
A Eurovision fan himself, Sherlock says he organised the event so that people who are choosing to boycott the event by switching off their TVs have a positive alternative.
“I really love the Eurovision, and I know a lot of people who do, but also have their problems with it being hosted in Israel,” he says.
“I wanted to make an alternative, fun night but to be able to respect the boycott.”
Sherlock will be joined by other musicians to perform the hits of past Eurovision years, karaoke-style, and will also hold a half-time ‘Riverdance’.
“One of my favourite things about Irish activism is how fun it often is. Just turning off the TV would be a bit boring.”
Cork: A Song For Palestine, Plug’d Records at The Roundy Bar, Sat the 18th of May at 8pm
Galway: Alternative Song Event, Aras na nGael, Dominick Street, Sat the 18th of May at 8pm
Clonmel: F**k Eurovision with Kneecap, King Kong Company and The Latchikos, Mulcahy’s Live, Sat the 18th of May at 8pm
Dublin: Palestine – You’re A Vision at the National Stadium Bar, sold out. Eurovision Alternative at Street 66, Parliament St, Sat the 18th of May at 6pm