Belfast Telegraph

We'll talk about what I want: BBC's Nolan tells dissident group Saoradh spokesman

Stephen Nolan
Stephen Nolan

Stephen Nolan took to task a dissident republican spokesman who complained he was not being asked questions he wanted to talk about on his radio show with the broadcaster telling him "I'll decide what we talk about".

It comes after a conference in Derry's Guildhall was cancelled after dissident republican group Saoradh said it would protest over the PSNI's involvement.

Organisers The Long Tower Youth and Community Centre said the conference was focused on “providing young people with direct dialogue so that their voices can be heard and their views expressed on stop-and-search, house raids and policing in the community”.

It said it had no option to cancel as Saoradh had refused to engage in dialogue.

The matter was discussed on the BBC Stephen Nolan Radio Ulster show. Saoradh spokesman Paddy Gallagher called in to say they had decided to protest against the event after concerns were raised by children and their parents about the PSNI's attendance and in response to police activity in the city.

He said he was not aware of the activities of the new IRA which has claimed responsibility for the recent Derry courthouse car bombing back in January.  And only was aware of the bomb through reports in the media.

"We are a standalone body, we are an autonomous political party and do not come under the control or influence of any other person or organisation."

When asked about a group of teenagers who walked past the vehicle just minutes before it exploded, he replied: "What about them?"


You have right to hear some of the reality of Northern Ireland. Stephen Nolan

He said he didn't support violence "but I know why violence happens... you have to look at things in context ".

"The politics of condemnation didn't work in the past and they won't work now... a simple word has little or no effect on what's happened," he continued.

"If you want to go down the route of condemning violence, you have to condemn all violence. You can't condemn an act of resistance but be happy with British state violence."

He said he "understood" why violence occurred and why it would continue to occur. He said his group had lots of "positives" to offer youth people "from our revolutionary hub in Derry" and around the country.

He said it would be "regrettable" if children were killed in an explosion as a result of a terrorist act.

"Any death is terrible," he said.

When asked further about the car bombing and what he thought of how lucky those young people were that walked past it moments before the explosion, he said he did not call into the show to talk about it.

Mr Nolan responded: "Well you know what when you come on the media, just to send you a wee message my friend. Do you see when you come on to the Nolan show, what you decide to come on about, I'll decide what we talk about."

Following the interview listeners complained about the broadcaster giving Mr Gallagher the air time.

"We take the view," responded Stephen Nolan, "We should do a robust strong challenging interview and you have right to hear some of the reality - minority though it is - of Northern Ireland and what is happening here."

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