Comments appeared to be final straw
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.”