Alienated but unbowed

In a RTE interview, Gary Mitchell, the intimidated Loyalist playwright, has confirmed his latest work will be on the relationship between the police and loyalist paramilitaries (membership reqd). His own and extended family are still in Northern Ireland after a number of moves for their own security. In a defiant interview, he attacks highlights ongoing paramilitary influence and the BBC for bias:

I always tell the truth, and if people aren’t happy, I see it as their problem…There are no-go areas in Northern Ireland where paramilitaries are the police. The people who intimidated my family and blew up my car are going to be the police. It’s allnonsense…I hope to have more work on TV but BBC Northern Ireland has told me it does not want to make anything about Northern Ireland that is not positive or about the peace process

  • Glensman

    Typical of the BBC, UTV are the very same, things have been very like this for a very long time.

  • Crataegus

    BBC Northern Ireland has told me it does not want to make anything about Northern Ireland that is not positive or about the peace process

    I wonder why?

    Freedom of Speech on state television if you agree with the accepted line but if you are wealthy you can buy a few newspapers and dictate policy to governments. Democracy is wonderful.

  • Nevin

    It would appear that the BBC doesn’t want a light to be shone on the dark side of the so-called peace process.

    Gary has expressed his concerns about paramilitaries and policing. Perhaps he (and the Commissioner for Children and Young People) might also take a look at the links between paramilitaries and young people as illustrated on Bebo. It is infested with paramilitary-style marching bands as well as youth groups linked to the political wings of paramilitary organisations. Paramilitary godfathers are hardly apt role models for the next generation.

  • Martin


    ‘Official’ culture in NI has always been ‘celebratory’ – but official culture everywhere is the same. PR for the way things are.

    Gary Mitchell has come out with stuff like this before – not to mention having a bit of a chip on his shoulder about Catholic predominance in the local arts.

    It’d be interesting to see the BBC statement/rejection letter that says that they won’t take work except on these subjects… Might there be other reasons? Budgets? Literary quality?

  • The B Answer

    If that’s how the BBC put it – “we don’t want to make anything that’s not positive about the peace process” – then shame on them. But I doubt it is. I suspect it’s more likely to be something along the lines of “we have seen this kind of thing before, anything a bit more, sort of, now??”

    Mitchell is well-regarded, but I fear that pumping a fortune into another drama about loyalist paramilitaries arguing under fluttering, faded flags in Belfast is not exactly what people will be very interested in watching. Local drama should rightly be shaking itself down a bit and stepping out of its hackneyed moulds.

    That said, it’s important to remember that BBC NI boasts the laziest and dullest television drama department in the UK – and that’s practically the official line from HQ. It is cynical, bloated, boring, self-obsessed, sycophantic and inexperienced.

    I don’t care that much for yet another play about the struggles within and without misunderstood loyalists, but I care even less for a drama department which pretends it has a bigger view of the world when it has no view at all.

  • ok

    Edited Moderator – Play the ball

  • Crataegus

    BBC NI boasts the laziest and dullest television

    I would like to see the NI equivalent of SHAMELESS

  • Mick Fealty

    Ball = subject matter. Man = personal attacks.

    I have had to strip half the comments off this thread, because of a quite arbitary targeting of an individual, whose connection with the story above was tenuous to say the least.

    For the life of me I cannot see why people cannot find it within themselves to either explore the theme above (highly relevant in the wake of the O’Loan inquiry and instead shoot off down a highly questionable side route.

  • Quaysider

    Part of the theme above is, and I quote, “BBC bias”. I accept your point that an individual was targeted but myself and one other poster made it clear that this individual could only legitimately be cited due to conduct, not personal life.
    The local media establishment should not be beyond reproach. This is your site Mick and if you are uncomfortable with questions being raised about broadcasters and/or journalists you should modify your posting policy.

  • The B Answer

    Crataegus, me too. Even if they completely ripped the Shameless idea off, I’d still love to see it. It would be something, it would show SOME wit… but don’t hold your breath. REPEAT: Don’t hold your breath!

  • Yokel


    I do understand you have to cover your rear here and why you had to edit but in short answer to your question.

    a) because its more fun (why else does Big Brother get made instead of worthy documentaries about Coffee Bean growers?)

    b) Because it tells us a lot about the national broadcasters policy. I know people who have worked/work in the Beeb in Belfast and this has long been the rumour that the news agenda is bent in a particular way. Someone has just put some hard logic to it, for me at least.

    Important? You betcha. I do appreciate that you have to show some silky moderating skills though…though I’m still hurt over you editing out throwaway comment about Sammy Wilson once….

  • Jesus Christ

    I actually thought some of the above posts are interesting. The BBC does toe the line as on Iraq but if its audience has “moved on” and wants to watch Celebrity Big Brother, they must listen to that too. I would imagine, however, a lot of “playwrights”, an ex Provo big wig being one, are not particulalry good and have nothing of import to say (on a stage that is). If Mitchell has sometihng to say and he can say it, he deserves some kind of platform.

  • Mick Fealty

    I might agree Yokel, up to a point. But these things can be unpacked credibly without it turning into a kick-the-man fest.

  • Mick Fealty

    The other thing is I’m just back into Slugger Central with several deadlines niggling away at me… Time is short!!

  • joeCanuck


    Comment 12 on the Newry post could do with a touch up.

  • me

    well, i think you just made my point for me, mr fealty, but this time you didn’t even have the balls to tell your readers that you had censored, never mind why! you and a sinn fein ireland will make perfect partners

  • fair_deal

    It wasn’t mick who censored your last comment it was me.

  • me

    its his site, his policy, his responsibility – you are just a factotum, whoever you are

  • Jesus Christ

    Letter from today’s Irish Indo:
    The courage of a writer

    I read that Belfast playwright Gary Mitchell is continuing to write in spite of death threats made against him and his family (Irish Independent, January 27). As a Belfast-born writer, his courage makes me proud; no writer in the Republic can have the faintest idea of what writing in such circumstances must be like, and his bravery is a strong antidote to the smugness – let alone arrogance – often found among some of them.

    I have no doubt that Minister John O’Donoghue, who would have been so willing, as your report records, to “have a riot” at Synge’s ‘Playboy of the Western World’ a hundred years ago, will have no difficulty whatever in making a public statement denouncing the terrorism used against Gary Mitchell. I look forward to it.

    Similarly, I look forward to a statement of solidarity with Mitchell from Aosdana and also from the Irish Writers’ Union.
    Two notable members of Aosdana had no qualms about attending a poetry festival in Israel last November while Palestinians died, illegal settlements were constructed in Palestinian territory, and Palestinian homes and other infrastructure were destroyed at the hands of Israeli “defence” forces.
    Another Irish cultural moment of which we can be memorably proud. Aren’t we the brave lads! All that travelling . . . and the heat must have been killing.

    Well done, Gary Mitchell, who states “I’m not going to change the way I see the world just because someone threatens me.” Amen to that, I say. Let our writers and editors pin that over their desks. It might give the more timid among them something to which they can aspire.

  • The B Answer

    Yes, I love all this patting of people on the back because they are not going to change the way they see the world no matter what stuff…

    …but, as is completely crystal clear in the letter above, that’s as long as you see the world in the “acceptable” fasion. ie: thou shalt not go to a poetry reading in evil Israel.

    I suspect that someone who doesn’t quite see the world in that “correct way” won’t be getting any pats on any backs when they say they’re sticking to their opinion. They’re more likely to be shunned by those who seem to believe, somewhat bafflingly, that they are the Irish literary elite.