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]