06 January 2006

BBC ‘revisionism’ charge

Daily Ireland

Relatives for Justice say programme was ‘grossly insensitive’ in papers coverage

Jarlath Kearney

BBC Northern Ireland has been heavily criticised by Relatives for Justice (RFJ) for alleged “gross insensitivity” in television coverage of the 1975 government papers.
RFJ represents scores of relatives and victims affected by state violence in the North. RFJ yesterday accused the BBC of adopting a “revisionist agenda” regarding the content of Cabinet Confidential broadcast on Wednesday night.
An RFJ spokesperson made the comments after receiving complaints from victims’ relatives who were upset by the coverage.
Wednesday’s BBC programme featured film footage and pop music from 1975, alongside commentary about the secret government papers made public under the 30-year rule.
Accusing the BBC of having “airbrushed out” the role of British soldiers and RUC in violence during 1975, RFJ said: “One would have forgiven for thinking that British state forces had killed no one.”
“Similarly a scene detailing the attack on the Miami Showband failed to state that members of the British army were involved in the killings. Given the amount of loyalist killings in which collusion is now evidenced, especially within the mid-Ulster murder triangle from 1975, the fact that the issue was not addressed in the overall context or that it didn’t even merit a mention is appalling.”
The RFJ spokesperson also accused the BBC of displaying “gross insensitivity” by accompanying footage of rescue services digging through bomb rubble with a song by The Eagles featuring the words ‘I swear I’m going to find you... I’ve been searching’.
“Our office received several calls from bereaved relatives who were very upset, some of whom we have been visiting and supporting throughout the day – their loved ones being killed in bomb explosions.
“The BBC as a public body has yet to be designated under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and the equality provisions which in effect would allow for a series of measures aimed at achieving a more equitable, balanced and representative public broadcasting body. Above all, such a move would allow for public accountability.
“It is in this context that the victims of British state violence, including state collusion, impact the least on the BBC news agendas.
“There needs to be a push on both designation and change at the BBC if it is ever to gain the confidence of the entire community as a fair and impartial broadcaster,” the RFJ spokesperson said
Responding to RFJ’s concerns, a BBC spokesperson told Daily Ireland: “The programme is restricted to covering the contents of the Cabinet papers of the time and is not intended to be an investigative programme about the events of 1975. The music chosen for Cabinet Confidential was generic to that year and was not intended in any way to be insensitive.”

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