Loyalists treated as an alien species by the BBC: Jamie Bryson

Loyalists are treated as an “alien species” by BBC Northern Ireland, a loyalist activist charged last night.

The BBC has come under fire from unionists over its coverage of Saturday’s Centennial parade in Belfast
The BBC has come under fire from unionists over its coverage of Saturday’s Centennial parade in Belfast

Following fierce unionist criticism over the corporation’s coverage of the Northern Ireland Centennial parade, Jamie Bryson claimed that “I doubt many in the BBC would even understand let alone identify personally as loyalists”.

Mr Bryson said there is also an intense political lobbying campaign by nationalists to silence him and other loyalists on the BBC airwaves.

“It’s really concerning when powerful coalitions of activists undertaking politically motivated lobbying can influence who is allowed on the BBC, or indeed editorial output more generally. We see these campaigns in full swing in the boycott Nolan campaigns.”

He said that there has been a concerted campaign to bully ‘The Nolan Show’ which Mr Bryson said had refused to be bullied.

Mr Bryson continued: “There’s also the additional issue of how the BBC introduce commentators. A unionist or loyalist is always identified by political background, whilst nationalist commentators are described in neutral terms thus giving them the benefit of the veil of being independent, which obviously is a serious issue because viewers or listeners can think they are listening to an independent contributor, when in fact they are listening to a nationalist activist.

“The BBC need to publish and explain their policy on this, and the same standards must be applied across the board. If someone is, for example, a board member of Ireland’s Future, or indeed has signed public letters by that group and has been listed by their professional status as nationalists, then such persons can not benefit from the veil of independence.

“I think the BBC should undertake unconscious bias training in relation to what many perceive to be their default detrimental treatment of unionists but particularly loyalists.”

BBC Northern Ireland has defended its coverage of last Saturday’s march which brought 125,000 people onto the streets of Belfast.

The interim head of News and Current Affairs, Kevin Kelly, said the corporation had carried “detailed reports about this event” in Newsline programmes on May 28 and 30.

Mr Kelly said in a letter to DUP MLA Deborah Erskine: “All of this was complemented by related coverage on the BBC’s local news website and regularly updated reports on BBC Radio Ulster.

“We think our news coverage reflected the importance of the Orange Order’s event and its significance for those involved and many people within our audience.”

The DUP said on Tuesday that it intends to raise the BBC’s “gross misjudgment” with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

Veteran UUP MLA and Orangeman Tom Elliott has demanded to see a breakdown of the airtime allocated to the parade.