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
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
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us