Belfast Telegraph

SDLP query Hume's omission in BBC's Good Friday Agreement coverage

By Gareth Cross

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon has queried the coverage given to John Hume's role in the Good Friday Agreement during a video package on BBC's The View programme.

Mrs Mallon said she was stunned contributions of John Hume and former deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon during the segment were reduced to a "two second shot" in the lengthy package.

The video package was aired during a piece looking at an art exhibition from Raymond Watson at the University of Liverpool which examines the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

"We're approaching the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and it's a time when we should all be reflecting on the contributions that that were made by many people in overcoming that very difficult dark time in our history," Mrs Mallon said.

"I don't think anyone can underestimate the contribution of John Hume and Seamus Mallon.

"When the BBC ran a very lengthy package I was taken aback that there was absolutely no mention of that contribution apart from a two second clip."

The North Belfast MLA said the issue was about correctly marking history and not promoting the SDLP.

"There was no mention of them when other people who made contributions seemed to get much more coverage, it's not about giving the SDLP a privileged position it's about reflecting their honest contribution in that very historic moment in our politics," she said.

"I think when we move away from a moment in time there is always things that get forgotten and others attempt to rewrite history or take ownership of it.

"When you come to a poignant moment like an anniversary that is when you stop and make an honest analysis and reflection of what happened and I think the coverage doesn't give an honest reflect of people's contribution."

Ms Mallon said that everyone who contributed should be remembered as part of the 20th anniversary.

"When you have an anniversary of this magnitude we need to reflect on the contributions made. As history progresses people forget and others have very different versions of it," she said.

"It's important that on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement there is recognition to the contributions made by a range of people and that's very true of the contribution made by Hume and Mallon."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood appeared on the show to discuss abortion and the failure of talks at Stormont with host Mark Carruthers.

Mr Eastwood revealed that the party was planning a special conference to discuss the abortion issue.

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the BBC but they declined to comment.

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