MP to challenge BBC over funding for Bobby Sands film

Tom Elliott MP
Tom Elliott MP

An Ulster Unionist MP has said he will write to the BBC asking why public money was used to fund a film about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

Tom Elliott branded the decision “disgraceful” – and said the tension created by the republican movement’s strategy at the time claimed many more lives than those who died in the Maze prison.

Called ‘66 Days,’ the documentary charts the days leading up to the death of Sands on May 5, 1981.

Northern Ireland Screen is reported to have handed £76,000 to the project.

“[The hunger strikes] led to many murders. It added to not only the tension [around the period] but also to terrorist activity,” Mr Elliott said.

“I will be writing to the BBC to ask how they came to this decision. For those organisations to be give significant amounts of money, I think it’s disgraceful.”

The Fermanagh/South Tyrone MP said: “It’s about the rewriting of history. There is an effort to make out that Bobby Sands was some sort of great person, whereas he was just an IRA terrorist and a criminal.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We have contributed to the costs of this programme, a version of which will be broadcast on BBC television at a later date. We do not publish details of individual programme costs.

“We seek to reflect the differing views and experiences of local communities across our output.”

The spokeswoman added: “Some of this includes Troubles’ events and legacies. All of it is carried out with the utmost care and sensitivity. 66 Days forms part of this wider, and still developing, BBC programme portfolio.”