Belfast Telegraph

The BBC have dropped me over Gillespie tweet, claims Jude Collins

 

By Lauren Harte

Controversial media commentator Jude Collins says he has been dropped as a regular panellist by BBC Northern Ireland. 

Up until recently, Mr Collins was a regular freelance contributor on Radio Ulster on shows including Talkback, The Nolan Show and the Saturday morning paper review on the Kim Lenaghan show. 

However, he has not been heard on the air in recent weeks.

Mr Collins believes the broadcaster’s decision was prompted by the reaction to controversial remarks made on social media about IRA victim Patsy Gillespie.

In 1990, Mr Gillespie, a civilian Army worker, was told to drive a bomb to Coshquin barracks near the border while his family were held hostage. The bomb was armed by remote control, killing Mr Gillespie and five soldiers.

In a Twitter post in October, which drew widespread anger, the writer and broadcaster said Mr Gillespie had chosen to work for the security forces even though he knew this made him a target for the Provisional IRA.

Responding to the “dramatic drop-off” in BBC airtime, Mr Collins said: “If you take the year from January to now, I was appearing on the BBC on average at least every fortnight roughly or maybe more depending on the circumstances.

“However, since around July 12 I don’t believe that I have been on more than once. Certainly the figures between July and now are remarkably different to what they were earlier in the year.

“I was last invited into the BBC around September to comment on an item on Good Morning Ulster and that is the solitary invite that I can recall in months.

“I was due to go on the air in October but was told at very short notice that I was no longer required. I’m seriously disappointed that the BBC have reacted in this way. These people know the kind of person I am and the views that I have.

“They have reacted not in terms of their judgement of me but in reaction to the judgement of others and that is in some way unfair. I have been doing work with the BBC for up to 30 years and it seems to me that they have responded to a kind of Twitter and general media hysteria,” he added.

A BBC spokesman said: “We seek to reflect a range of views, voices and areas of expertise within the BBC’s output. Decisions about someone’s involvement are an editorial matter, based on the relevance of their contribution and the needs of the programme involved.

“We don’t comment on individual contributors, but can confirm that the profile of people taking part in BBC programmes is subject to ongoing development and review.”

Two months ago, Kenny Donaldson from the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) met with BBC NI’s head of news Adam Smyth and colleagues to raise the concerns of victims and survivors of terrorism surrounding comments made by contributors including Mr Collins.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Donaldson said: “We make no apology for challenging groups or individuals who cause additional hurt to those who have already had so much stolen away from them and we will continue to do so in the days ahead.”

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