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
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor