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Home / News / Boycott of SXSW a ‘no-brainer’, says Kneecap’s Mo Chara

Boycott of SXSW a ‘no-brainer’, says Kneecap’s Mo Chara

Belfast rap trio Kneecap said the decision to boycott a Texas arts festival was a “no brainer”, due to the festival’s links to weapons companies and the US military and the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.

Kneecap were due to play three shows at the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, which takes place from 8 to 16 March.

In a post on X, the band said they had cancelled “in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to highlight the unacceptable deep links the festival has to weapons companies and the US military who at this very moment are enabling a genocide and famine against a trapped population.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Kneecap’s Liam Óg Ó hAnnaidh, who goes by the name Mo Chara, said it is not very often that you have a festival that is “super sponsored” by the US military.

He said when it emerged that talks from weapons companies are on the festival’s agenda, it was a “no brainer” to withdraw as “these are obviously the same companies that are supplying weapons for a genocide in Palestine.”

Kneecap were due to play three gigs at SXSW

He said it “sends a very clear message that the Irish people will always be in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Mick Flannery, Gavin James, Sprints and Soda Blonde have also confirmed that they will not be performing at SXSW.

Mo Chara said he would reject the suggestion that the group could have pushed their message had they attended the festival and performed and believes their fans will support them pulling out.

“If I know my fans like I think I do, I think they’ll be very much supportive of our decision.”

Last night, it was confirmed that Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin will be attending at number of events at the festival, as part of the Government’s St Patrick’s Day programme.

In a statement, her department said she had spoken to the musicians who have withdrawn and that she “outlined that she has the utmost respect for their freedom of expression as artists and reassured them that she will use every opportunity available to her to make clear her revulsion at the devastation that has been unleashed on Gaza”.

Mo Chara said: “We’re not here to speak on behalf of other people or say who should and shouldn’t go. We were only making the decision based on us, but I know obviously the minister [Catherine Martin] was saying that she was going to support Irish acts.

“I think she’d be standing at the Irish stage on her own seeing as there’s no acts playing anymore. But if she’s using her platform to speak out against it, then all the power to her.”

He said there is a financial impact from not performing but it is “only a minor hiccup in our careers”.

“It’s very expensive on flights, on accommodation, all these other factors, it’s not just payments for gigs and there’s also bands there who would be more affected than us from pulling out, which I’m very proud of.

“But at the end of the day, this is just a minor sort of hiccup in our careers in comparison to what’s actually happening in Gaza … everybody can play their part.

“Our part, this time was pulling out of a gig, taking a bit of a financial hit, but the whole country can play their part, whether it’s attending rallies, or boycotting is really good, and anyone who has a platform continuing to use it in any way.

“So, all we did was pull out of a gig. Yes, we lost a bit of money, it’s priceless to do the right thing.”

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