Congratulations to GB News, showing up BBC Northern Ireland on its coverage of the Twelfth of July

News Letter editorial on Wednesday June 15 2022:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

In a way it should not have been surprising that BBC Northern Ireland ditched its live coverage of the once-a-year Twelfth of July parades.

You only need to consider how the corporation covered the centenary of Northern Ireland, treating it entirely as a contested matter between those who want Northern Ireland to exist and those who do not.

This assumed they are even in number, when in fact determined opponents of the existence of NI are only ever 20 something per cent of those who vote in Northern Ireland elections (and even if they were even in number, BBC NI is the broadcaster for one of the four home nations so should not be neutral on the existence of a country that is its role to cover exhaustively, thus including its anniversaries of state).

BBC NI – which has such extensive Irish language and GAA broadcasting – failed at any point in the last year to run a straightforward celebration of the remarkable milestone of Northern Ireland turning 100.

It turned it into a centenary of ‘partition’. See the sleight of hand in such an approach? It would be akin to the Irish state, or RTE, in 2016 having treated the centenary of the Easter Rising as a neutral event — the 100th anniversary of two competing views: one pro, one anti that event. Which of course is not how nationalist Ireland commemorated its cherished rising.

The BBC did not even to cover extensively those who wanted to celebrate NI’s 100th. Its TV coverage of the 4.5 mile centenary parade, with 25,000 participants and 100,000 spectators, amounted to three minutes on the evening news.

Now, however, GB News has proven that its title does not mean that it just concentrates on the mainland, but in fact it covers one of the big spectacles of the UK — the glorious Twelfth (of July) in Ulster.

Congratulations to the young channel, only a year old. It does not have the resources of BBC NI, so might struggle to do justice to a day so widely celebrated across Northern Ireland. But it is trying, and visibly standing in where the BBC has left.