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Performers deny 'dark art' funding

    Israeli officials have attacked boycott campaigners in Ireland, claiming dozens have benefited from government-backed Arts Council funding.

    The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign repeatedly disrupted the country's biggest ever showcase of Israeli films last month. And more than 150 Irish creative and performing artists launched a cultural boycott campaign against Israel in 2010.

    At least 34 artists who supported it have received funding to help pay for tours, running costs or fund individual projects.

    An Israeli official said: "We have deep concerns about the way the anti-Israel groups are supported. This is not just a spontaneous manifestation in Ireland against Israel. It's a well-organised and well-funded structure."

    But the Arts Council said it did not believe funding had been used improperly and that there was no evidence grants awarded to artists had been spent on anti-Israel campaigns.

    Composer Raymond Deane, a founding member of the IPSC, has received around £76,000 from the council during the past five years.

    He said: "Neither I, nor the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, receives a penny from the Irish government for our activities in defence of Palestinian rights."

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