‘Axing’ of controversial commentator Jude Collins by BBC NI welcomed

Jude Collins
Jude Collins

Political commentator Jude Collins has been told to stop wallowing in self-pity after he claims to have been dropped by the BBC over his views.

Ulster Unionist councillor Chris Smyth suggested instead that Mr Collins should reflect on his comments heaped more hurt on innocent victims of terrorism and their families.

Mr Collins, who was a regular freelance contributor to Radio Ulster programmes such as Talkback and The Nolan Show told the Belfast Telegraph that he believed the BBC have cut his air time after comments about IRA victim Patsy Gillespie, a civilian Army worker who was forced to drive a bomb to Coshquin barracks in 1990. The bomb was detonated by remote control which killed Mr Gillespie and five soldiers.

In a controversial Twitter post in October, Mr Collins said Mr Gillespie had chosen to work for the security forces even though he knew this made him a target for the Provisional IRA.

In Saturday’s Belfast Telegraph Mr Collins said: “[The BBC] have reacted not in terms of their judgement of me but in reaction to the judgement of others and that is in some way unfair. I have been doing work with the BBC for up to 30 years and it seems to me that they have responded to a kind of Twitter and general media hysteria.”

Mr Collins also angered families of Omagh bomb victims with his comments.

Omagh councillor Mr Smyth said: “I alongside relatives of victims of the Omagh bomb wrote to the BBC expressing our disgust that a commentator would refer to the Omagh bomb as not murder. I also penned a letter to local newspapers explaining why the comment was so offensive to the people of Omagh, especially considering Jude Collins is originally from Omagh himself.

“He also made equally callous comments about the murder of Patsy Gillespie and has in the past compared the Boys’ Brigade to children taking part in dissident republican marches. The way in which he heaped hurt and pain on to victims of terrorism make it understandable why his commentary is toxic to most organisations.

“I’ve already spoken to some victims’ campaigners and have seen others respond online and they are very glad that the BBC have appeared to rein back their employment of Jude Collins.”

He added: “Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Mr Collins should reflect on his own actions, the hurt and pain he has caused and examine why this state of affairs has arisen.

“Hopefully in his contemplation he will come to understand that this is a totally self-inflicted blow and it will give those people so hurt by his comments hope that deliberate and callous acts that cause so much hurt will not go unchallenged.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “We seek to reflect a range of views, voices and areas of expertise within the BBC’s output. Decisions about someone’s involvement are an editorial matter, 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.”