Page last updated at 11:35 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Dido slammed for republican riff

Gregory Campbell wants the singer to clarify her position

By Natalie Lindo
BBC News

Lyrics chosen by singer/songwriter Dido have led Northern Ireland's culture minister to accuse the artist of supporting the IRA.

The singer has just released her new album, Long Way Home, which she co-wrote with producer Jon Brion.

In the song Let's Do the Things We Normally Do the lyrics include a few lines from Barleycorn's The Men Behind The Wire.

"Armoured cars and tanks and guns, came to take away our sons. But every man must stand behind, the men behind the wire."

The song was written by the Northern Irish band in the aftermath of internment.

It describes raids by British soldiers, and the "men behind the wire" refers to those held at Long Kesh prison, which later became the Maze jail.

Now Culture Minister Gregory Campbell, of the DUP, has asked the artist, or her management, to clarify her position so the public and her fans know where she stands on the issue.

Dido has just released a new album

"Whatever the song represented when it was recorded 40 years ago has changed, since then it has been recorded by militant republicans about people who were guilty of very serious crimes, terrorists and gangsters," he said.

"Why on earth would a singer who, previous to this hasn't shown any affinity with that sort of grouping, make a recording like this?" he added.

Barry McElduff of Sinn Féin said Mr Campbell was "focusing on issues with little relevance or significance".

"Once again we see needless rants from a man who is elected as a minister for culture in this assembly, but would much rather criticise a great music talent like the musician Dido," he said.

Mr Campbell said his opinion on the Dido song had been sought by a local newspaper journalist.

If she is an IRA supporter then she should come out and say it
Gregory Campbell

"I just said it was odd, it doesn't appear to be an Irish Republican song but the verse she has chosen is.

"If she is an IRA supporter then she should come out and say it, if she is not she should say that and offer some clarity either way."

Mr McElduff said he believed most people would expect the minister for culture, arts and leisure to defend and support artistic freedom and independence.

He added that the minister had recently also taken exception to an episode of the Simpsons.

"I think artistic freedom and independence is very important," he said.

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