Belfast Telegraph

Frankie Boyle joke about IRA killing Tories causes outcry

Frankie Boyle has caused a stir over a joke on his show about the IRA
Frankie Boyle has caused a stir over a joke on his show about the IRA
Lord Tebbit was pulled out of the rubble after the 1984 Brighton bomb, which left his wife paralysed

By Staff Reporter

Tory peer Lord Tebbit has called on the BBC to ban comedian Frankie Boyle after a controversial joke about the IRA.

On his BBC Two programme last week the Scottish comedian said it might be a relief for Theresa May to resign after having spent a weekend at Chequers with leading Brexiteer Conservative politicians. "Where the f*** are the IRA when you need them?" he joked.

Lord Tebbit last night told the Belfast Telegraph: "The man should be banned from broadcasting on the BBC. What he said was highly offensive. IRA terrorist attacks are no laughing matter and the BBC shouldn't have him on television."

Lord Tebbit was pulled out of the rubble after the 1984 Brighton bomb, which left his wife paralysed.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said Mr Boyle's joke insulted victims and went "well beyond bad taste".

DUP MP Gregory Campbell described it as a "stupid, puerile pathetic so-called joke" and said broadcasting the material raised serious questions for the BBC.

He said it was important to remember that the IRA had tried to kill Prime Minister John Major and his Cabinet in a mortar attack on Downing Street in February 1991.

On Frankie Boyle's New World Order on BBC Two last week, the comic said: "Theresa May has offered to resign if she can get her deal through... it's probably a relief for her.

"I mean, she spent the weekend at Chequers with her worst enemies - like Boris Johnson, Jacob Reese Mogg, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, all in one place.

"Where the f*** are the IRA when you need them? All these groups that keep getting back together. What about the guys that would really help us?"

The BBC defended the programme. It said: "Frankie Boyle's New World Order 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."

Later in the programme the comedian referred to the security dangers that might follow a hard border.

He said it would a "horrible thing" to think that the Troubles might kick off again.

He added he couldn't imagine a British soldier wanting to stand in the rain waiting to get his legs blown off by "a local butcher".

The DUP questioned the BBC's decision to broadcast a "joke which wasn't funny" about the IRA killing politicians.

Mr Campbell said: "In 1991 the IRA tried to wipe out the cabinet in a mortar attack on Downing Street. Thankfully, they failed. Seven years earlier five people were killed in the Brighton bomb attack during the Conservative Party conference.

"Given the IRA's record of murdering and maiming politicians, Frankie Boyle's words are deeply insensitive. This is not humour. It raises serious questions that the BBC broadcast such distasteful material."

Me Beattie said: "If killing politicians is funny, perhaps Boyle's next joke will seek to find humour in the brutal murder of Jo Cox?

"Or if terrorist murders in general are a source of mirth, will he seek to mock the innocent people murdered by a terrorist fanatic in the two mosques in New Zealand the other week?

"Perhaps he thinks the IRA's murder of two young boys in Warrington in 1993 is a source of humour."

He insisted the joke went "well beyond bad taste".

He added: "It reflects a time when the IRA murdered political representatives in an attempt to press their will through force on others.

"That is called fascism. In making light of it, Boyle belittles the IRA's murders and steps beyond the satirical comedy used during the Troubles that never attacked victims.

"Humour has always been part and parcel of how we have dealt with our troubled past.

"We have laughed at ourselves during some of the worst atrocities imaginable, but in doing so we never allowed that humour to focus on the victims.

"Frankie Boyle's attempt at humour missed the mark spectacularly.

"Personally, I have more respect for the memory of people like Airey Neave, Robert Bradford, Sir Norman Stronge, Sir Anthony Berry, Ian Gow and Edgar Graham, just some of the politicians who were murdered by Irish republican terrorists."

Four years ago there were calls for Feile an Phobail to drop Mr Boyle over jokes he made about children with Down's syndrome.

The organisers refused to do so, leading to protests outside their offices.

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