Belfast Telegraph

Frankie Boyle IRA joke - victims’ campaigner complains to BBC

Controversy: Frankie Boyle
Controversy: Frankie Boyle
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

A victims' campaigner has written to the BBC to express concern about an IRA joke made by Frankie Boyle.

On his BBC Two programme last week, the Scot said it might be a relief for Theresa May to resign after having spent a weekend at Chequers with leading Tory Brexiteers. "Where the f*** are the IRA when you need them?" he asked.

The joke has already drawn criticism from Lord Tebbit, who was pulled out of the rubble after the 1984 Brighton bomb, which left his wife paralysed.

The Tory peer called on the BBC to ban the comedian - a view shared yesterday by TUV leader Jim Allister.

The North Antrim MLA said: "Calling something comedy is not a licence to get away with a deeply disturbing attempt to parody brutal murder.

"In the context, the correlation with the Brighton bombing is inescapable. Lord Tebbit called it exactly right."

However, Anne Graham, the sister of murdered academic Edgar Graham, said the remarks were "tasteless rather than outrageous".

Mr Graham, a UUP politician, was shot dead by the IRA outside the library at Queen's University in 1983.

Ms Graham said: "I'm aware of Frankie Boyle's remark, or attempt at a joke, but although I consider it to be deplorable and in very bad taste, I do not feel that it is necessary to give him the oxygen of publicity.

"I do not choose to watch him, but I am no snowflake and do not feel he has to be barred.

"Better people know that such despicable remarks are being made and can vote with the off switch.

"The BBC should make a considered decision and let us know why they are choosing to allow something like that to be broadcast and whether they think victims should be subjected to it."

Victims' campaigner Kenny Donaldson said the BBC had questions to answer over the comedian's joke.

Mr Donaldson, of Innocent Victims United, wrote to the BBC after concerns were raised by survivors of terrorism.

He said: "The BBC are very much in the firing line for permitting the remarks to be broadcast, given the hurt that has been caused.

"Mr Boyle can only relay material if it gets the nod from the BBC, so they have to ask themselves if these are issues that they really want to be sanitising and making such a joke of.

"This is another example of the diminution of the impacts of terrorism. The IRA is almost being framed as an old boys' network.

"For those who have been impacted by terrorism, they will never see the IRA in any other way than that they brought death and destruction. The BBC cannot simply wash its hands of responsibility for the messaging communicated, which is having the impact of diminishing the evils and ongoing legacy of terrorism."

The BBC has so far defended the programme, saying it "was shown after 10pm on BBC Two and its content is within audience expectations for a post-watershed, topical, satirical programme from a comedian whose style and tone are well-established".

"Within the same programme, Frankie clearly acknowledges the brutality of the IRA's activities," the BBC added.

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