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Belfast rappers Kneecap are threatening legal action over a 'funding ban' from the UK government

Belfast rappers Kneecap are threatening legal action over a 'funding ban' from the UK government

Belfast rapper Kneecap is threatening legal action over the UK Government's decision to block funding.

Funding was allocated to the music group through an independent process before being rejected.

“We have just been informed that our application for the Music Export Growth Program has been independently approved and signed off by the Selection Board,” the group said on social media site X, formerly Twitter, on Friday.

“It was then directly banned by the British government, which overruled the Independent Selection Board.”

A spokesman for the UK Business Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, reportedly said they did not want to give taxpayers' money “to people who oppose the UK itself”.

The music group, which toured in 2019 under the title “Farewell to the Union”, said that the decision effectively means “preventing them from receiving significant music funding because a Conservative minister does not like our art.”

SDLP leader and MP Colum Eastwood suggested the decision may not be consistent with the British Government's commitment to exercising power on the basis of equal respect for communities in Northern Ireland.

“It is highly unusual for the Secretary of State to intervene to overturn the decision of an independent evaluation committee to award funding to an artist on the basis of his or her political aspirations,” Eastwood said.

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“It would be unacceptable for the British Government to pursue a policy of defunding groups because they support Irish unity, Scottish independence, Welsh independence or any other change to the constitutional status quo.

“Worse still, in the context of Northern Ireland, it would constitute a breach of the British Government’s obligations under the treaty signed after the Good Friday Agreement which includes a commitment to exercise power on the basis of parity of respect between communities in the North.

“Art is meant to be a challenge. You don't have to agree with an artist or group to understand the importance of funding creatives who challenge the status quo and the establishment.

“I have submitted a number of parliamentary questions to find out what happened here,” he said.

“If there is a change in funding policy to make it more difficult, Kemi Badenoch should make it clear.”