The social media networks are ablaze with acrimony and accusations over the decision by Julian Cope to cancel his scheduled appearance at the “Out to lunch” festival due to take place in Belfast on January 16th 2014. Cope emailed the organisers saying:
‘It is with regret that I feel obliged to cancel my forthcoming Belfast show of January 16th due to the current security situation there and the logistics involved.
I’m very sorry about this.’
Given the recent spate of terrorist / dissident activity it’s entirely understandable that someone might fear for their safety in Belfast – understandable except where your continued funding depends on they and their ilk appearing in Belfast that is. You see there is a bigger picture here. The main complainant who described Cope’s decision as “an utter disgrace” was himself absent from Belfast for most of the troubles™ and returned on a permanent basis only after peace broke out. The fact is that nobody can guarantee the safety of Julian Cope (or any other person) from terrorist activities here in Northern Ireland and his concerns ought to be respected, not derided.
Indeed here is the MI5 terrorist risk assessment as of todays date;No so funny now, is it?
Another fact is that the “Out to Lunch” festival is in its ninth year of operation post troubles™ and is funded handsomely by various organisations and Government bodies due, in no small part, to the work they purport to do to “promote” cross community activities, peace, tourism, culture and any other buzz word that gets them a couple of hundred thousand pounds of taxpayer money to play with every few years.
When someone like Julian Cope comes along and states a rather uncomfortable but corroborated truth (which might well have a detrimental effect on future funding for such activities) it’s little wonder that those whose livelihoods depend almost entirely upon sucking at the taxpayer teat in order to sustain their businesses knee jerk in such a fashion.
Fair play to anyone who can figure out a way to have their primary business funded with tax payers money but when you build a business on the ever shifting sands of peace and social stability as your foundation you really are in a precarious position.
That aside, Julian Cope has genuine, and according to security service sources clearly well founded, concerns about his safety from terrorist attacks during any planned appearance in Belfast. If you cannot guarantee his safety, which you can’t, then at least afford him the right to take measures to do so himself without lambasting him in public for doing so.
Perhaps he’s not as desperate for the money as his would be detractors are?