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Kneecap perform during the Electric Picnic Festival in Stradbally, County Laois (Niall Carson/PA)

British Govt stops funding for Kneecap over rap group's 'opposition to the United Kingdom'

A spokesperson for the UK government said that it didn’t “want to hand out UK taxpayers’ money to people that oppose the United Kingdom itself”.

BELFAST RAP GROUP Kneecap has hit out at the British government for “censorship” after its funding was pulled from a UK-wide funding scheme for music artists.

The group said it learned today that while its application to the scheme was “approved and signed off” by an independent selection board, it was later “blocked directly” by the British government.

In response to queries about the group’s claims, a spokesperson for the UK’s Business and Trade minister said that it didn’t “want to hand out UK taxpayers’ money to people that oppose the United Kingdom itself”.

Kneecap, a rap-trio who perform as Gaeilge, earlier posted on social media about the funding cut, claiming that a controversial tour poster from 2019 was to blame.

The poster depicted band members Mo Chara and Móglaí Bap in front of a bonfire, with then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former DUP leader Arlene Foster tied to a rocket ship blasting off from the scene.

“We’re told that our 2019 Farewell to the Union poster p*ssed off the Tories. Once again the British government is trying to silence voices from West Belfast – once again it will fail,” the band said on X, formerly Twitter.

Their application was for the Music Export Growth Scheme, in which 67 artists received funding totalling £1.6 million.

The scheme is part-funded by the UK’s Department for Business and Trade and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Kemi Badenoch, who previously came to wider attention for her suggestion to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, is the Tory minister for trade.

A spokesperson for Badenoch told The Journal:

We fully support freedom of speech, but it’s hardly surprising that we don’t want to hand out UK taxpayers’ money to people that oppose the United Kingdom itself.

They said that they were informed their application “was independently approved and signed off by [the] selection board. It was then blocked directly by the British government who overruled the independent selection board.”

In response to the minister’s statement, Kneecap said “it should be remembered that we must pay taxes to the Tory government even though we oppose their presence in Ireland”.

The group added that “removing artists from funding” due to their political beliefs was “classic coloniser stuff”.

The rap group has gained acclaim for their blend of Irish and English rap about the realities of growing up in post-Troubles Belfast.

Last month, a film dramatising its rise to fame became the first Irish language film ever to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and later won an Audience Award.

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