‘She says she’ll express her revulsion’ – Catherine Martin attending SXSW despite boycott

Ten Irish artists have cancelled performances at the event so far.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

10.41 13 Mar 2024

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‘She says she’ll express her r...

‘She says she’ll express her revulsion’ – Catherine Martin attending SXSW despite boycott

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

10.41 13 Mar 2024

Share this article

The Arts Minister is forging ahead with plans to attend a Texas music festival that is sponsored by the US military.

Ten Irish artists, including Kneecap and Soda Blonde, have pulled out of South by Southwest (SXSW) in recent days.

The artists have said they don’t want to be associated with the US Army, which is a 'Super Sponsor' of the event, as well as other sponsors that include weapons manufacturers like RTX and Collins Aerospace.


They have also expressed concern over the use of the weapons in the Israeli onslaught on Gaza – with Belfast group Kneecap claiming the weapons manufacturers have "murdered 31,000 Palestinians" in the conflict.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has warned all musicians who decided to cancel their performances not to come back in future years – while festival organisers have said they “fully respect the decisions”.

Increasing pressure

Arts Minister Catherine Martin has said she will continue with her plans to attend the festival despite increasing pressure to join the Irish artist’s boycott.

She has told the musicians that she supports their decision and plans to “express her revulsion” with the situation in Gaza when attending the festival.

On Newstalk Breakfast today, Soda Blonde guitarist Adam O’Regan said the bands are waiting to see if she sticks to her word.

“She said she supports our decision,” he said.

“She says she’s going to go over there and express her revulsion over what’s going on – we’ll see if that happens.

“Diplomats like Minister Martin have different opportunities and different responsibilities and I believe that wherever necessary, it’s important that diplomats stay engaged.”

Adam said it was a “big deal” for his band to play the festival and their decision to cancel was not taken lightly.

“In just a few short days before flying off we learned about some of the partnerships that we felt conflicted with our core principles and values,” he said.

“We met up and discussed at length for about four hours what it might look like to go and what it might look like to not go.

“Ultimately for us, we came to a decision that we couldn’t in good conscience go and stand on a stage and perform knowing there are profiteers of war in the tent next door.”

Adam said he does not expect the Irish artist's boycott to change much in Texas.

“People go to the grocery store with guns in their pockets over there,” he said.

“We’re under no illusion what our decision was going to do, it wasn’t going to influence the US Army or gun culture in America necessarily.

“But for us, personally, it felt like the only decision that we could make.”

Here are the Irish artists who cancelled their attendance at the event:

  • Kneecap
  • Sprints
  • Soda Blonde
  • Gavin James
  • Robert Grace
  • Mick Flannery
  • Chalk
  • Gurriers
  • Cardinals
  • NewDad

Irish artists are supported to attend SXSW by the State Music From Ireland fund and Adam said Soda Blonde has taken “a big hit financially” by not playing at the event.

“It’s a tricky one,” he said.

“We can sleep well at night knowing we didn’t comply with this festival that was essentially asking us to go against our values and our principles, directly or indirectly.

“We’ve disadvantaged ourselves of the opportunities this potentially could have given us – it’s a big deal for any band to get over there.”

Some 38 Irish diplomats will be travelling abroad for St Patrick's Day this year.

Main image: Media Minister Catherine Martin addresses media in relation to RTÉ fallout at Government Buildings, 23-2-24. Image: Leah Farrell / ©

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Catherine Martin Gavin James Kneecap Link In Bio Newstalk Breakfast Soda Blonde South By Southwest Festival St Patrick's Day Texas

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