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Furious Nolan hits back over claims he was manipulating Quinn parents

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Presenter Stephen Nolan in the BBC studio

Presenter Stephen Nolan in the BBC studio

Presenter Stephen Nolan in the BBC studio

Radio Ulster presenter Stephen Nolan has unleashed a furious attack on media commentators including the BBC's own pundits over claims that he and other broadcasters have been manipulating the family of murdered Paul Quinn.

Defending the impartiality of his award-winning programme against republican claims of bias, Nolan said that he had recently had eggs thrown at him on the Shankill Road in Belfast.

The brutal killing of Mr Quinn from South Armagh in 2007 has been at the centre of an ongoing row this week over allegations made by Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy 13 years ago that the lorry driver had links to criminality.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said in an election interview on RTE on Monday night that Mr Murphy, the Stormont finance minister, had told her he never made the criminality claims.

But an excerpt from a 2007 interview with the BBC showed that he had made the comments.

Mr Quinn's mother Breege has called for Mr Murphy to withdraw his allegations and apologise, and say her son was not a criminal.

Later there were claims on social media and some TV programmes that the media were manipulating the family.

Former priest Denis Bradley, who was one of the authors of the Eames Bradley report about how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles, said on The View programme on BBC on Thursday night that "media people" had abused the situation, but did not name any names.

On Friday Stephen Nolan hit back at the manipulation claims and asked his critics, whom he did not identify: "Has it crossed any of your minds and including the minds of people who often have a platform on the media that the Quinn family could be strong people who are just as capable of dealing with the media as anyone else.

"Let me say this out loud. Politicians and media commentators who we see every single day of the week on the BBC and elsewhere, my goodness there's no one suggesting that they haven't got the ability to decide how and when to speak for themselves.

"So if an individual family wants to be on the Nolan show, absolutely I will fight for them to have a powerful voice like anyone else.

"When the criticism of me is that I am giving an individual family as powerful a voice as any political party, politician or media commentator in this country so bring all of that criticism on, bring it on."

He added that the commentary about the Quinns having been manipulated had come "from people who should know better".

Nolan invited Mrs Quinn back onto his show on Friday and asked her for her views on the manipulation assertions.

He said: "There are some powerful people in this community who are suggesting that you have been manipulated and being used when you are being given a platform on the media. Those very people who think that they are intelligent enough to decide for themselves what they do and do not say on the media are attempting to depict you as someone so bereft of ability to decide for yourself whether you're being manipulated by people like me."

Mrs Quinn replied: "I appreciate every chance I get, every radio station that calls me I am really pleased to go on it.

"I had to fight to get on the radio and it's not because there's an election. I'm looking for justice for my son."

He told Mrs Quinn: "That makes me really angry. You are one of the most capable people I have heard on the media in a long time.

"I don't see you as weak or vulnerable. I see you as someone who is grieving for your son. But, my God, you are not incapable of making decisions."

Nolan later dismissed claims that his show was biased against republicans.

He said that there had been graffiti about him in the Shankill Road and that eggs had been thrown at him in the area because people there felt he was biased towards the nationalist community.

Belfast Telegraph