Belfast Telegraph

MLA accuses BBC's Nolan of stoking fires with 'shock jock' tactics

By Mark Bain

BBC NI presenter Stephen Nolan has come under fire for the role his radio show is alleged to have played in stoking bonfire tensions across Belfast on the Eleventh Night with "shock jock" tactics.

The BBC has declined to comment after a tweet by Alliance's Stewart Dickson on Wednesday night criticised Nolan's "contribution to this sorry mess". The East Antrim MLA was responding to Nolan's tweet calling on PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton to arrest "senior people" following UVF threats to "life and property" in east Belfast.

Nolan is well away from any trouble in the US this week, with his morning Radio Ulster show being presented by Vinny Hurrell in his absence.

He tweeted: "I wish I could ask the Chief Constable if he is prepared to prove to the NI public that when the UVF threatens property & life, he will show them who is boss. Let's see how many senior people are arrested."

Mr Dickson responded: "And Mr Nolan your grossly overpaid contribution to this sorry mess, I doubt history will judge you well with your so-called 'shock jock' tactics."

Nolan's tweet was in response to the PSNI revealing on Tuesday afternoon that the UVF in east Belfast was threatening to "orchestrate and participate in serious disorder".

What followed was a night of chaos in parts of the area and Co Down. There was major disruption as cars and buses were hijacked and torched and Belfast City Airport was placed under lockdown as police dealt with a suspect device on the Sydenham bypass.

Masked men also obstructed the main route to the Ulster Hospital.

A total 13 vehicles were set on fire, although police said the violence "failed to materialise on a wide scale".

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: "The east Belfast UVF was not living up to a combined statement issued on behalf of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando in April which stated they supported the rule of law and that any members which engaged in crime would be forced out."

According to the BBC's annual report 2017/18 released this week, Mr Nolan earns between £400k to £409k. In the 2016/17 report he was listed as earning between £400k and £449k. The bands were narrowed this year.

When criticised for taking full pay as and MLA despite Stormont collapsing 18 months ago, Mr Dickson responded: "The Alliance Party clearly set out a very long time ago why MLAs need pay cut to reflect current circumstances, however the main effort must be to restore devolution."

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