Dublin lifts broadcast ban on Sinn Fein: Whitehall says decision on British law will have to wait

THE IRISH Cabinet yesterday decided not to renew its broadcasting ban on members of terror groups. The move is aimed at drawing Sinn Fein towards constitutional politics and will take effect when the present order expires next week.

The operation of a similar ban in Britain is currently being reviewed by Peter Brooke, the National Heritage Secretary. However, Whitehall officials said yesterday that any move to follow suit will have to wait for several weeks.

Sinn Fein's president, Gerry Adams, said yesterday that the lifting of the Irish ban was 'long overdue'.

The Dublin decision had a mixed reception in Britain. Michael Mates, the former Northern Ireland Minister, described it as 'very unfortunate'. He said it would put the Government in a difficult position.

However, Marjorie Mowlam, Labour's national heritage spokeswoman, welcomed the move: 'This is not a bargaining counter, but a civil liberties issue. Labour has consistently opposed the ban in the UK since 1988 because it is ineffective and prevents rigorous interviewing of Sinn Fein politicians by committed journalists,' she said.

The operation of the ban in Britain, which allows actors to speak the words of the Sinn Fein supporters, has been causing concern to some ministers. This is because the voices are being dubbed over by professional actors with such technical skill that people switching on in the middle would assume it is the actual voice of the subject.

This development was regarded by some ministers as a breach of the law in spirit if not in the letter.

The Prime Minister, as a result, asked Mr Brooke to conduct his review. This will take 'some weeks' so it appears there is no immediate prospect of the ban being lifted in the UK. Indeed, what lay behind the review was a wish, if anything, to tighten it.

Some MPs believe there could now be a relaxation that the Dublin government - however unwelcome to Britain - has taken this step.

In the Irish Republic the current order, under Section 31 of the 1960 Broadcasting Act, was first introduced 18 years ago at the height of the Troubles by Conor Cruise O'Brien, the then Minister of Posts and Telegraphs. It blocked political radio or television interviews with members of named organisations, including Sinn Fein, deemed to be supporters of paramilitary violence.

The end of the ban effectively opens the door to further political rehabilitation of Sinn Fein should an IRA ceasefire be declared.

A Dublin government spokesman said the ban, due to expire on 19 January, could be reinstated by the Dail at any time for an unspecified period if the political and military situation so dictated.

A spokesman for Michael D Higgins, the Arts, Culture and Broadcasting minister, said: 'The decision not to renew it does not preclude a review of the situation at any time. The legislation under which the order is made remains in force.'

Irish broadcasters will still be required to abide by Section 18 of its 1960 Broadcasting Act, blocking material deemed likely to incite crime 'or undermine the authority of the state'.

Dublin is convinced that allowing republicans an input into public debate is vital to drawing them out of their present ideological ghetto. The move was heralded before Christmas by the Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape