Belfast Telegraph

Countryfile subtitles for Co Londonderry man 'another example of the BBC's lack of respect for Irish people and culture'

Amanda Ferguson

A Stormont MLA has complained to the BBC after subtitles were used during an episode of Countryfile when a Castledawson man was speaking.

Mid Ulster Sinn Fein MLA Ian Milne has criticised the BBC for using subtitles when Barney Devlin spoke.

The former blacksmith was the inspiration for Seamus Heaney's poem, The Forge.

The Countryfile programme featuring the Co Derry man was broadcast  in August and then again on Sunday as part of a compilation programme on crafts in the countryside.

In August one Twitter user said: "Since when has the BBC felt we needed subtitles to understand our own language? #countryfile is subtitling a blacksmith with an accent."

And DUP MLA Peter Weir took to Twitter following the weekend broadcast to share his thoughts.

"Bit of an insult that the BBC are putting subtitles up on Countryfile for an elderly forge worker from Castledawson," he wrote.

Today Mr Milne claimed the use of subtitles is "another example of the BBC's lack of respect for Irish people and culture".

"I was shocked to see subtitles used during a section of the BBC programme, 'Countryfile' which was shown on Sunday evening and featured Castledawson blacksmith, Barney Devllin," he said.

"Mr Devlin is a well-known figure in the local area, and internationally as a result of his immortalisation by the late Seamus Heaney in his famous poem, 'The Forge.' 

"Following the death of Seamus Heaney last year, Barney Devlin was interviewed by media organisations from across the world, including the BBC and they did not see the need for subtitles.

"This has caused anger in the local community who are insulted by this unnecessary move. 

"A wide variety of accents are heard and understood on the BBC without the need for subtitles every day so the BBC must explain why they used in this instance. 

"It is yet another example of the BBC's lack of respect for Irish people and culture. 

"I will be writing to the BBC to highlight my concerns about this and calling on them to apologise immediately."

This comes after former Belfast mayor Niall O Donnghaile accused BBC Northern Ireland of "showing disrespect" for the Irish language community

The Sinn Fein councillor revealed last week he has complained to the BBC about the Nolan Show for its handling of the controversial "curry my yoghurt" comments made by DUP MP Gregory Campbell in the Assembly.

Mr O Donnghaile said the "offensive remarks were repeated ad nauseam in order to get a cheap laugh" on the Nolan Show.

A BBC spokeswoman said Mr Devlin had no issue with subtitles being used.

"No offence was intended," she said.

"We wanted as wide an audience as possible to appreciate Barney Devlin’s evocative memories of blacksmithing and of Seamus Heaney”

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