Seanad debates

Monday, 31 May 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Niall Ó DonnghaileNiall Ó Donnghaile (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the change to this week's Order of Business to allow for the continuation of Committee Stage of the Affordable Housing Bill on Friday. The arrangement is a helpful and positive move given the level of debate that is required and the amount of amendments that have been submitted.

I recognise the historic vote in the Dáil last week with the passage of the motion on Palestine. It is important, timely and sends a positive and correct message internationally from these Houses.

I pay tribute to one of Ireland's and certainly one of Belfast's leading blues guitarists, musicians and singers, Rab McCullough. Perhaps unjustly, Rab is not one of our best known musicians. For those who did and do know him and his music, his playing meant the world.

Rab performed with other legends and shared the stage with people like Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, AC/DC, Paul McCarthy and Wings, and the Rolling Stones among many others. In the 1970s, Rab was a political prisoner in cage 17 of Long Kesh where he taught Bobby Sands how to play the guitar. My father, who was with them in cage 17, reminded me this morning that Rab would often play guitar with his teeth in the style of Jimi Hendrix. Apparently, Rab was a great help with the many sports injuries that the men in the cages suffered due to football, soccer and everything else. Clearly, Rab had magic hands whether it was on the guitar or assisting his fellow prisoners.

I was lucky enough to hear Rab play on a number of occasions. Especially now with his passing, it strikes me how mesmerising a privilege that was. He was a fantastic blues guitarist and musician. His music was a great gift to anyone who had the opportunity to hear him play, particularly live and he was a regular feature in small, intimate venues throughout Belfast in recent years. I take this opportunity to send my thoughts to his wife, Marian, his three children and his grandchildren. In his memory and in the spirit of the life that he lived, I call for statements and discussion on how we support musicians, artists and the cultural sector as we safely, and wisely, emerge from the restrictions over the next short period.


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