BBC 'blanks out' voice of former Ulster MP

THE BBC last night applied Home Office broadcasting restrictions to remarks by the former MP, Bernadette McAliskey, and two members of the public who do not belong to any of the political or paramilitary groups which are banned under the 1988 order.

Under her maiden name of Devlin, Bernadette McAliskey was elected an 'Independent Unity' MP on her 22nd birthday in 1969. She appeared last night on Nation, a recorded discussion programme on political violence, which was shown on BBC 2.

Later, Ms McAliskey said that 'silencing' her was 'defamatory, derisory and dangerous'. She is taking legal advice after the BBC refused her request to withdraw her contribution from the programme. She said that she belonged to no political party, had drawn a clear distinction between understanding and supporting the use of violence, and had never been subjected to restrictions previously. Recently she expressed similar views on a BBC Scotland television programme and on BBC 2's Newsnight without restriction.

'Nothing I said warrants this kind of treatment. The BBC's position is ridiculous. I said to the BBC if my words might be construed as supporting the use of violence then they should not be broadcast as I do not wish them to be construed that way and yet they insist they go out as subtitles,' she added.

The 1988 Home Office notice to the Independent Broadcasting Authority and the BBC prevents broadcasts of members of a list of republican and loyalist paramilitary groups, and two legal political parties, Sinn Fein and the smaller, hardline Republican Sinn Fein. The voices of Ms McAliskey and two anonymous contributors from the audience were banned under a clause in the notice that prohibits any words spoken which 'support or solicit or invite support for such an organisation'.

The contentious words appeared as subtitles, with the voice blanked out, as the notice permits for members of banned organisations. Her voice was replaced by captions, after the interviewer had asked her if she believed that violence could be justified.

She replied: 'Quite honestly, if I supported it fully, if I could justify it, I would join the IRA. Since I am not a soldier, since I cannot within myself justify it, then I'm not. I can understand it, I can explain it, I can articulate it, and I can offer what I believe to be a rational way out of it, which is discussion and negotiation wherever it is in the world.'

She said that no sane human being supported violence. 'We are often inevitably cornered into it by powerlessness, by lack of democracy, by lack of willingness of people to listen to our problems. We don't choose political violence, the powerful force it on us.'

Ms McAliskey said that she understood the Deal bombing by the IRA, which killed 10 Marines. The Brighton bombing at the Tory conference in 1984 which killed civilians was 'less acceptable within the grounds of the Geneva convention' but she understood it.

'I accept I find the use of war and the use of arms and I find the involvement in political violence by the IRA understandable in that the present position in which we find ourselves, an intolerable position, was created itself out of political violence and the threat of further violence against us,' she said.

'Eight hundred years of the violence of your government has not promoted government of Ireland by Britain with the consent of the people of Ireland. I ask you the same question, is it right, is it necessary, and does it work?'

Ms McAliskey told the Independent in 1988 that she disagreed with Sinn Fein on a number of issues. She said she and the party were different parts of the same movement, and she 'worked with Sinn Fein on the issues'.

A BBC spokesman said yesterday that the programme had been commissioned from Juniper Productions, an independent company which had put in the subtitles on the advice of BBC lawyers. The BBC had agreed to the move.

But Helen Darbishire, campaigns officer for Article 19, an international anti-censorship group supporting a challenge to the 1988 ban in the European Court of Human Rights, said that in her view the subtitled words in the programme did not 'solicit support' for banned organisations under the order. 'I would like to see broadcasting organisations testing the ban by pushing its limits and getting it decided in a court of law. Until then we are not going to see what is within the law.'

In a statement, the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, supported by 25 trade unions, described the programme as 'a drastic extension of the broadcasting ban'.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'