Com­ments ap­peared to be fi­nal straw

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS -

THE BBC has faced nu­mer­ous calls in re­cent years to axe the vet­eran columnist Jude Collins af­ter he was rapped for a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sial re­marks.

Re­cent com­ments on Patsy Gille­spie ap­pear to have been the fi­nal straw for the broad­caster. Mr Gille­spie (42) was tied into his van, loaded with a mas­sive bomb, in Oc­to­ber 1990.

The de­vice was det­o­nated, killing Mr Gille­spie, a civil­ian worker at an Army camp, and five soldiers. Mr Collins posted on Twit­ter that “like so many oth­ers from the con­flict years, his death was hor­ri­ble and shock­ing”.

He added: “How­ever, un­like many oth­ers, Patsy chose to do work for the ‘se­cu­rity’ forces, even af­ter the IRA had warned that made them tar­gets.” In Au­gust he sug­gested on his blog that those who died in the Omagh bomb were not mur­dered. He made the com­ments

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 on the 20th an­niver­sary of the atroc­ity, which claimed the lives of 29 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a woman preg­nant with twins.

In 2016 Mr Collins com­pared the Boys’ Bri­gade to chil­dren tak­ing part in dis­si­dent repub­li­can marches in Lur­gan.

In his blog in Au­gust 2013, he ad­mit­ted he had com­pared the “dress­ing up of chil­dren in IRA uni­form/re­galia with the Boys’ Bri­gade”.

Ann Travers, whose sis­ter Mary was shot dead by the IRA when it at­tacked their mag­is­trate fa­ther Tom , said Collins had com­pared the shoot­ing to a be­reave­ment by a “reck­less driver”. Ms Travers said she had been hor­ri­fied at the “sce­nario” painted by Mr Collins about her sis­ter’s mur­der.

In the same year, Mr Collins was crit­i­cised by union­ists when he ques­tioned whether Shankill bomber Sean Kelly had been guilty of mur­der.

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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