IRELAND'S biggest traditional music and culture festival has snubbed energy giant Shell after environmentalists kicked up a storm over sponsorship from the company.

Organisers of Fleadh Cheoil na h Eireann in Sligo from August 10,which pulls in about 300,000 visitors from home and abroad every year, took the last-ditch decision to reject money from the oil and gas multinational after they were accused of prostituting themselves.

Activists from the Shell to Sea group claimed President Michael D Higgins was being put in an awkward position by officially opening an event even though he has spoken out in favour of the communities affected by Shell's controversial Corrib gas project in Mayo. The environmentalists claimed the music organisation that plans and promotes the fleadh, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, was reneging on its ethos of promoting peace by accepting money from Shell.

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The exact amount of money has not been confirmed.

Shell E&P Ireland (SEPIL), said it was disappointed by the decision and said the organisers of the festival approached the company seeking funding.

"Our support is in keeping with our continuing investment in cultural, community and family events run by volunteers.We hope that everyone will enjoy this wonderful festival."