Sinn Féin MP: “I think this is part of an ongoing process by the BBC of insulting the Irish people…”

The DUP and Sinn Féin have united, again, to complain about the BBC’s use of subtitles during an interview with County Londonderry blacksmith, Barney Devlin, on its Sunday evening Countryfile programme.  Of the two parties, the DUP’s Peter Weir, MLA, was relatively restrained

The DUP MLA, Peter Weir, told BBC 5Live that he also felt it was wrong.

“I felt that what Barney had to say was relatively distinct and that the use of subtitles was both unnecessary and somewhat insulting to a 94-year-old man.

“I sometimes see Countryfile and I can’t remember another occasion, despite the wide range of accents you hear in the United Kingdom, that I saw somebody subtitled.

“Somebody at the BBC has acted in a slightly patronising and unnecessary way.”

Sinn Féin, on the other hand, verged on the hysterical – wheeling out the MP for Mid Ulster, Francie Molloy, to double down on its criticism after an initial statement from the Sinn Féin MLA, Ian Milne.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, the Sinn Féin MP for the area, Francie Molloy, said he was very unhappy with the programme.

“I think this is part of an ongoing process by the BBC of insulting the Irish people both in culture and language, in this occasion putting subtitles over the voice.

“The subtitles were only coming up for Barney and in other episodes of the programme which covers different parts of the country, indeed the world, it’s very seldom that you do see subtitles being used.

“Seamus Heaney was from the same part of the country and he was never subtitled. The people of south Derry have complained to us so we’re passing that on to the BBC.”

[Part of this ongoing process? – Ed]  Probably…  There are, however, two key points to note from the BBC’s response.

A spokesperson for BBC Countryfile said:

“No offence was intended. We wanted as wide an audience as possible to appreciate Barney Devlin’s evocative memories of blacksmithing and of Seamus Heaney.

“We discussed with Mr Devlin using subtitles and he was happy for this to happen.”

The Countryfile episode featuring Mr Devlin was first broadcast back in August but was repeated on Sunday. [added emphasis]

Any attempt to link this sudden, and belated, sensitivity to the forthcoming two-part BBC NI Spotlight investigation into MLAs expenses would be entirely unjustified…  [*ahem* – Ed]

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  • Neil

    Heard a clip on the radio earlier. I didn’t understand a word of it myself.

  • Ernekid

    In fairness I’ve struggled to understand ones from Derry myself. Yer mans an aul fella from the country, not the easier to decipher

    It’s a shite accent all things considered

  • Bryan Magee

    i saw the original screening in August and I thought it was probably the wrong decision ot use subtitles, though I don’t think its part of “an ongoing process by the BBC of insulting the Irish people”. I think it was a (borderline) wrong judgement (because it is better to try to work with all the accents that are out there) in an individual case.

    The producers at Countryfile probably noticed it was hard for people to get the hang of his accent and just wanted everyone to understand the speaker, and thought this was the best way to do it. Innocent motive, but on balance probably the wrong decision.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Once as an engineer, working for a Welsh company, I was part of a team installing a production line in China. On completing the project our Chinese hosts threw a party and the Chinese project leader made a speech of thanks in English. Our Scottish boss said “Ar canna unerstan a woord hes sayin” upon which my Welsh mate replied “I can’t understand a word you say either you b*gger” upon which the whole table collapsed with laughter. Happy days!

  • Morpheus

    Were there no subtitles?

  • Neil

    Not on the radio. Didn’t see it on the telly.

  • chrisjones2

    SF are doing a Cahill in face of the BBCs revelations obviously. It will all be a securocrat plot I am sure. MOPEry at its finest.Fill the airwaves with this crap in case someone asks about money or raping children and covering it up

  • LordSummerisle

    Both parties need to wise up. The BBC often puts subtitles on programmes with strong colloquial accents for example the programme about the housing scheme in Scotland. I suppose that was the BBC insulting Scottish people. At least Our Jimmy was not subtitled !

  • Morpheus

    C’mon Neil, you’re quicker than that 🙂

  • Neil

    Lol. Ye’d think… 😉

  • Morpheus

    Cyber high-5 for you

  • Tacapall

    Why do you think the BBC wont highlight these allegations –

    “Victim of VIP abuse scandal ‘saw Tory MP throttle
    12-year-old to death’ as police launch probe into THREE deaths linked to
    depraved sex ring”

  • notimetoshine

    Oh for crying out loud are they still trying to make this a ‘thing’. People aren’t biting. A shame we don’t hear so much from them about the shambles of government they are part of.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Christ SF will you give up with the mopery already.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Because the BBC has editorial standards higher than the rumour mill hacks who “work” at the Daily Mail ?

  • Robin Keogh

    Can somebody tell me what Mope and mopery mean?

  • Tacapall

    Give your head a shake will you Comrade have you forgotten about Jimmy Saville and all the rest of the peadophile ring who the BBC turned a blind eye to, just like now.

    Obviously everybody is in on the conspiracy then –

  • Comrade Stalin

    I haven’t forgotten about Jimmy Savile or the fact that nobody ran any stories about him which surely must mean that your conspiracy involves the entire profession of journalism in the UK.

    I’ll wait for the story to appear in a quality publication, thank you.

  • Brian Walker

    Bonkers reaction to a great item. Chippy nonsense. Barney is also very old and quite hard to make out even for a native. He was treated with great respect and enjoyed himself enormously. The wider audience was well served The whole piece on the Sperrins was a welcome boost for a beautiful neglected area I’ve only recently reacquainted myself with rather than take the A6 over the Glenshane pass. Stand and marvel at Beaghmore stone circle and drop off in Ditty’s in Castledawson for a cup of tea and slice or three of their tea loaf. The item was a very welcome example of Ni being represented on a very popular UK national programme – something that doesn’t always happen.

  • Bryan Magee

    Its true – a good way to look at it – the Sperrins were getting a great boost though this popular show. I think the Sperrins are often under-appreciated, and Countryfile’s publicity is good for tourism there. They had a lot of nice views , scenery, and local history.

  • Reader

    MOPE = Most Oppressed People Ever

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In a quarter of a century in the London film scene, Comrade, I’ve met any number of entirely credible survivors who could speak of names that are now coming to light. You dismiss Tacapall’s point as “conspiracy” and we all know what that means….. but looking at reality, what “conspiracy” there was was not faceless men sitting in darkened rooms, but a lots of individuals acting from a mess of extremely varying motives. It was (and is) a much more diffused, uncoordinated process, stretching from those who were protecting important names because they owed them favours or worked for those who owed them favours, to those who, at the other end of the spectrum, had heard the stories and thought, “they have had a bad sexual experience and will get over it when they grow up a bit.” This was usually because such people had perhaps “pushed it a bit” sometimes themselves on a “date” and wanted to think well of themselves, and so would excuse terrible abuse by pretending it was rare, and involved notorious figures such as Saville, whose activities were well known. That, or simply ideologically inspired variants of misplaced liberalism!

    To any of us near the media or politicians, or even certain haute bourgeoise circles, it was obvious that those who were being abused by, for example, men “poaching” their friends sons or daughters violently, would never get a hearing. It was their word against someone powerful in a climate of laxity and pretty much anything goes. Anyone who was even on the extreme fringes of this through family or friends will know the sub-culture I’m describing.

    And yes, part of the complex system of trade offs any news media must engage in with politicians and others has involved quite extensive blind eyeing. I know of a few journalists personally from when I was living in London in these years, who were told in no uncertain terms to suppress stories by those who could affect their careers. The press has become even more centralised since then with fewer owners and if you are waiting for all of this to appear in full “in a quality publication” you will be waiting quite a long while. There are simply too many people who have been seriously compromised by all of this for any but the most extreme and freakish, such as the rather friendless Saville, to be outed. The true scope of the abuse will probably never to be completely laid open to scrutiny. A recent move is that some families of dead abusers are threatening defamation actions as they too are in the public eye and any exposure of their parent will affect their careers.

    And if you want an historical “put up” job on a massive scale as a precedent, something that is still affecting our everyday lives in the Wee Six, try this:

    I quote from the blurb: ” ‘Making Toleration’ also overturns traditional interpretations of King James II’s reign and the origins of the Glorious Revolution. Though often depicted as a despot who sought to impose his own Catholic faith on a Protestant people, James is revealed as a man ahead of his time, a king who pressed for religious toleration at the expense of his throne.”

    And one last thing, and from a quality paper at that, if someone as connected as Barbara Castle could not “out” those people she knew of at that time, what hope could a poor jobbing journalist have in those days!

    But I still seriously doubt that my Bodliean membership card will permit me to check all of this out for myself however!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    The straight talking, no nonsense, proud, thick-skinned Ulsterman is dead.

    Long live the culture of Norn Irish precious princesses from either side of ‘the divide’.

    *shakes head*

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Really, how to turn a positive item into something negative.

    My thoughts turn to something Morpheus said regarding Gregory Crooked Mouth’s curryoghurt remarks, that it is a distraction from the real issues.

    The fact that both the Dupers and Shinners are at it on the same item only serves to galvanise this idea.

    Mr Devlin has a very strong accent and a great manner of speaking, it has great charms and makes me rather embarrassed that my accent has mutated from something originally similar to Mr Devlin’s to something now more akin to a trans-Atlantic DJ (though half of the Anglophones that I meet still tell me that my accent is really strong (it’s NOT)).

    But the fact remains that it would be very difficult for the vast majority of Anglo-phones to understand Mr Devlin.

    To NOT subtitle him would call into question the work ethic of certain BBC workers.

    They did the right thing

    “Now Mr Weir and Mr Molloy, about that economy thing, the health service and the triplicated education system….? Hello? Hellooo? Hellllooooooooooo?”

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You’re flying close to the sun there, cub…..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Agreed Bryan

    In Feb I took the Claudy-Strabane road, was very pleasantly surprised, check this bad boy out:

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Not only that your Lordship, the krypto-fascist BBC and her banker overlords occasionally sate their appetite for plebeian humiliation by mocking those who would subtitle or interpret for the people:

    How was this year’s harvest BTW?

  • 1. What in the name of f has Tacapall’s latest posts got to do with any of this?

    2. Regarding the story that he refers to, I saw it covered on BBC news either yesterday morning or the morning before. So his whole premise is nonsense.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    DoppiaVu, while I’m not unaware of the “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam” element in my posting, I still think that Tacapall is making a very valid point, and my defence of this is also perfectly valid. Tacapalls post uses the BBCs record on blind eyeing a great deal of abuse to explain that those “standards” Comrade S puts such high trust in, in his post, are all too questionable. Comrade S trails the idea that Tacapall is relying on “conspiracy” claims to do this, I’m supporting Tacapall’s claim by unpacking Comrade S’s dismissive use of “conspiracy” in order to show that its all rather more complex than simply dismissing the charges of abuse simply because the quality papers have not featured these stories when they occurred. What is difficult to follow in this?

    In a broader sense, for any of us who have had really direct contact with these issues, Tacapall’s point is still pretty valid! Although the BBC may have eventually reported the story now, the story itself has been building for a while. Anyone who cares to look at dates will notice that many of these abuse stories have had quite a run on the web or in the press before they grace the airwaves. This is probably because of pressure on the BBC news desk from much more important news stories….the BBC has limited airtime….but for anyone as suspicious as Tacapall or myself, all this needs rather more unpacking.

    The King James bit using Sowerby’s “Making Toleration” is a salutary reminder for those who may need it that a massive public coverup can mislead an entire generation and may even become the canonic version of events for later generations, and if something as significant as this historical distortion can occur there is no guarantee that any given “truth” will finally come out about any major public coverup past or present.

    And hey, while it’s perhaps just a little “off the rails” from the idea of sub-titling the Derry accent, but as the question of BBC agendas is what is on the table, surely you can see that its not really that far off theme! Unless you feel that these issues should not be aired, something you would probably not be at all alone in thinking.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Can you please explain which issues I apparently don’t want aired? And how exactly you came to that conclusion?

    Regarding the BBC coming late to the story – well, I’ll take your word for that. However, I can think of a number of reasons why a public service broadcaster may be hesitant. In fact, Lord McAlpine appears to have given them 185,000 reasons to be hesitant about airing potentially slanderous allegations…

  • Bryan Magee

    Indeed. I climbed up Saul and Dart, the two top Sperrin mounts. Very beautiful.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Please forgive me DoppiaVu, if I have suggested that you are personally unwilling for these issues to be aired. I’d been mislead by your comment “What in the name of f has Tacapall’s latest posts got to do with any of this?” which I thought also suggested that my own comments were being aired in a “my Aunt Mary” manner! (“My Aunt Mary, my old history master’s stock line for anyone who wished to re-direct any theme).

    The BBC have certainly been coming noticeably late to this matter as even some very disgruntled employees there have complained to me. But, as someone with a reasonable acquaintance with law and contract, I am only too aware of the possibilities of a defamation action against anyone who cannot entirely prove beyond any doubt their alligations of abuse. I’ve mentioned this above, with the interesting variant that slander can, seemingly, now be claimed as personally damaging by the living family of a dead person accused of abuse. This has been a major constraint on anyone who has experienced these things and actually attempts to find redress. Rape is notoriously difficult to prove. Even firm DNA evidence and clear evidence of violence can become very ambiguous if an expensive and experienced solicitor is engaged by the accused. It is so very very hard to prove an abusers guilt that most survivors I have encountered have simply been told to forget it even should they be able to afford an equally experienced solicitor. The balance of proof appears to be strongly weighted against those who have suffered. So, in this context, the BBC editors choice to await the story getting a strong and uncontested media airing may be quite understandable, but this caution within the media, combined with the apparent impunity with which the likes of Saville and Cyril Smith could quash any accusations over decades through legal threat has done nothing to discourage others from pushing the limits of their own behaviour.

    In this context Comrade Stalin’s stated belief that “I’ll wait for the story to appear in a quality publication, thank you” considered as any assurance of the final and absolute presentation of truth of these matters, is almost touching in its naïvety.

  • Zeno3

    Victim Hood, Victim Hood, riding through the glen
    Victim Hood, Victim Hood, with his band of men

  • Certainly, there’s been plenty of Aunt Mary’s lurking round Slugger of late!

    No doubt, the BBC’s reputation has been badly tarnished by the various scandals erupting both around it and within it. I guess the potential for abuse is particularly high where an above-average proportion of employees are fully-fledged celebrities, with the power that this entails. I think in the modern day, where there are so many media sources foisting so many short-lived celebrities upon us, it’s increasingly hard to remember the idea of a “household name” – which Savile certainly was. None of which should forgive the fact that nobody blew the whistle.

    However, despite the BBC’s faults, I have to say that as a news source, I’d still hold it in higher regard than the Daily Mail…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, DoppiaVu,I’m afraid that my own capacity to see (and post) connections across light years of thought occasionally need a bit of clarifying. And sorry to go on at such length but I’ve tried to give something of the background to the unforgivable suppression of abuse stories as I’ve encountered this happening in the media. People are all too busy either trying to duck out any any possible blame, or have reasons to avoid these stories being aired. And when I say that “This is probably because of pressure on the BBC news desk from much more important news stories….the BBC has limited airtime” this is actually how it is discussed, with anything reeking of scandal usually coming lower down the pecking order than political news. It is only slowly dawning on the BBC that what has been seen as simply dirt on famous men until now has clearly had all the sulphurous smell of unforgivable corruption for some decades now for some of us. But then I’ve watched similar attempts to vindicate Adams all over Slugger during the past few weeks. Our own little society’s duty to protect the vulnerable has been so eroded as to make “political contingency” seem as much of an acceptable argument here as it has seemingly been in evaluating these issues over in England.

    But I’m still rather less than convinced that the BBC can claim too much high ground or even much objectivity on quite a raft of news stories! Perhaps I’ve simply read too much Baudrillard and so the hyperreality of the news media looks all too paper thin to me as I watch the worms writhing underneath its cool emotionless surface. But again the hierarchy of media credibility: “I’d still hold it in higher regard than the Daily Mail…” or the Independent? (see above…).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    While I can certainly see the argument, all too often I’d wish that I had the BBC to put some decent subtitles on my own handwritten pencil notes! Even my doctor’s handwriting is more legible…….

  • kalista63

    Speaking of whoch; How sensitive was Kathleen Marshall, last night, when asked about soldiers abusing under age girls in their barracks?

  • Fobhristi

    err, I think the DUP had something to say as well, are they not engaging in ‘mopery’ also?