Organizers of the Frederick Douglass Civil Rights Festival Wexford were disappointed to find that a small group of protesters chose to stake the two-day event as organizers followed strict guidelines requiring attendees to present a vaccine certificate.
The festival, named after the legendary African-American abolitionist who visited Wexford in 1845, saw all manner of important debates and discussions on civil rights with contributions from local members of the traveling community, migrants and residents. local direct supply centers to name a few.
However, the group that met outside the Clayton Whites Hotel, where the majority of the events took place, insisted their civil rights were being eroded by having to present evidence of the vaccination against Covid to attend.
“It was disappointing,” said one of the festival’s organizers, Aislinn Wallace. “These people had the option to attend online if they wanted to. We were limited by the restrictions in place and everyone must respect them. To some extent I understand their position. They feel discriminated against and there There are problems, for example, with people who cannot be medically vaccinated and no arrangements are made for them, however, we do not make these decisions and we are obligated to follow government directives.
“What I would say is that this vaccine passport system has been in place for months and months. Yet these people chose to picket at an event celebrating an abolitionist and people from the homeless community. , migrants, people from Direct Provision were cast in. Don’t pick up any of the biggest festivals that have taken place in recent months with the same rules in place.
As for the festival itself, there have been some really moving contributions. While there was quite a segment focused on the story of Frederick Douglass and his visit to Wexford, it brought the civil rights struggle into a modern context with contributions from Senator Eileen Flynn (via video link) alongside local woman Mary Berry, who lives at the Park camp, who spoke on Travelers’ rights. Meanwhile, residents of the Direct Provision Center in Rosslare spoke about their experiences alongside Amnesty International’s Tim Hanley.
“I guess these are really tough conversations, but conversations that need to happen,” Aislinn said. “These are important conversations that people are joining and we are delighted to welcome them. We were really happy with the way things turned out and videos of all of our events will be posted on our YouTube channel in the coming weeks. before we start looking at next year’s festival, we’ve done a lot, but we have a lot more to do.