The BBC has been to the fore in REPORTING the violence in north Belfast, but is it possible that it may have contributed to the creation of the problem? An ATW reader writes;
“The BBC NI website was instrumental in making the band at St Patrick’s the biggest news issue around the 12th. It was their main headline for about ten days As a consequence, it became the defining issue of the summer – not the Ardoyne riots. The y used Sinn Fein-supplied video footage (just about acknowledged) of the circling band and did not put up any explanation or counter-view for days and then mostly on radio.
Ormeau Avenue was presumably in Donegal en masse and some junior was running the website. Normal news and views programmes were also off air. (The website is and has been much more biased/unbalanced than BBC NI broadcast news over recent months in choice of stories, emphasis and headlines.)
BBC NI has a record of not sending journalists out to cover events at weekends, at night or during holidays presumably because of the ‘cuts’, we will be told, which, by the way, are not ‘cuts’ but consequent on the diversion of £1 billion of licence fee money from programming and news to the BBC Pension Scheme. The result is their website goes without updates for hours or days. Sinn Fein spotted that gap and supplied dream footage of the band.
The impression, uncorrected, was given that the band were playing at the church by choice and circling as an extra sectarian point. Both untrue. Circling happens when the parade stops for a time or rests, as happened in Donegall Street that day. There was one dubious tune played and a bit of shouting at the Sinn Fein camera team – duly recorded and displayed.
The result is that the focus of Belfast parading disputes has moved from the Ardoyne roundabout to that at Carlisle Circus, largely as a loyalist paramilitary response to the Sinn Fein challenge, so enhanced by the BBC spotlight. And we have serious rioting not dissimilar to that in East Belfast a couple of years ago.
The Parades Commission has not helped with its Alliance Party chairman coming on the radio in July making assertions in advance of receiving his team’s reports while developing new Commission policy as he went along.
There needs to be an independent (Leveson-style) enquiry into how the issue was handled by BBC NI and a policy enunciated on when and how they use film footage supplied by non-BBC sources, in particular by political parties.
Obviously the real issue is territory but the BBC prefers to concentrate on sectarianism which is usually seen as a Protestant preserve. Republican misbehaviour like the mistaken attack on a car belonging to nuns living in a Protestant area in West Belfast is addressed briefly, if at all.
Would that the BBC broadcast a livecam of life for Protestants in the Fountain area of Londonderry which has to be protected by two massively high steel fences. The police now longer count sectarian incidents there as it would distort their crime figures so massively”.