Irish Republican News · May 24, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: BBC labels Sinn Fein Minister as IRA representative
BBC labels Sinn Fein Minister as IRA representative

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The BBC has been forced to apologise for a sinister incident that saw a Sinn Fein spokesperson labelled as a representative of “Sinn Fein IRA” while Ian Paisley Jr, son of infamous unionist hardliner Ian Paisley, labelled as ‘DUP Goodies’.

Both Sinn Fein Education Minister John O’Dowd and his DUP counterpart were panelists on last night’s Question Time current affairs programme in Belfast. A photograph of the BBC production team’s seating plan appears to have exposed the long-standing pro-unionist agenda of Britain’s state-run broadcaster.

The floor-plan was not broadcast during the transmission but an audience member took a picture of the plan and tweeted it.

The tag “Sinn Fein IRA” directly linking the nationalist party to the Provisional IRA has long been used in a pejorative way by unionists and right-wing extremists. The title ‘Goodies’ was apparently a further attempt to encourage production crew to give the unionist favourable treatment by distinguishing the ‘good’ DUP from the ‘bad’ Sinn Fein.

Mr O’Dowd had demanded an explanation.

“Last night I had agreed to take part in the Question Time programme on the basis of respect and equality,” he said.

“After the programme was finished I was made aware of the floor plan pinned to a camera branding me a member of ‘SF/IRA!’.

“This was not on the floor plan previously shown to me before filming.

“This is a serious issue. The SF/IRA tag was one created at the height of the unionist murder campaign against my party colleagues in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was an attempt to justify attacks on Sinn Fein members and our families. For the BBC to adopt the tag 20 years into a peace process is beyond belief.

“Last night we lodged a formal complaint with the BBC in Belfast seeking an immediate explanation for the sign and what action is to be taken against those behind it.”

Mr O’Dowd said he would not let the corporation sweep the issue under the carpet.

The BBC said the seating plan, which was attached to a camera in the studio, was written by a “technical” staff member working on the programme. It admitted the wording was “insensitive” and “naive”.

“The BBC is very sorry for any offence caused,” a statement from the British government said.

© 2013 Irish Republican News