8 April 1999 Edition

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McElduff meets BBC controller

Sinn Féin Assembly member Barry McElduff formally met with the BBC controller and Head of Broadcasting, Pat Loughry, on 25 March to discuss nationalist views of the BBC.

McElduff raised various issues of concern, such as the wearing of poppies by all broadcasters during British Remembrance Week and the failure to wear shamrock by the same broadcasters on St. Patrick's Day.

Also raised by the Sinn Féin spokesperson was the question of bias in terminology employed by the BBC and the need to further augment its improving coverage of Gaelic Games and produce new Irish language programmes.

While acknowledging that BBC Radio Ulster had a good output of Irish language programming, the West Tyrone Assembly member argued that this was ``not at all matched by BBC television''. He called for more Irish language airtime on television in ``accordance with cultural rights which are guaranteed under the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement''.

``The playing of the British National Anthem at the end of daily transmissions, lazy interpretation on the part of news journalists regarding the contents of the Good Friday Agreement, and the need to maximise coverage of local events and news in rural parts of the North were issued that I felt needed to bediscussed as well,'' McElduff told An Phoblacht.

After the meeting, the Sinn Féin representative added that the party was committed to monitoring the performance of such bodies but stressed that the BBC ``has a considerable distance to travel before it will reflect equal respect for nationalists and for our tastes and our sensitivities in terms of programme scheduling''. McElduff will meet with Mr Loughry again later this year and has asked anyone with views on the BBC to contact him via the West Tyrone Sinn Féin Office, 21 Main Street, Carrickmore, Omagh, Co. Tyrone.

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