Socialist Party



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6 November 2003

SP condemns BBC censorship

One of the smaller parties has joined the row with the BBC over election broadcast time. The BBC have informed the Socialist Party that any air time given to itís South Belfast candidate, Jim Barbour, in his capacity as a leader of the Fire Brigades Union, will be regarded as election coverage.

The Socialist Party, which is running in South and in East Belfast, has slammed this ruling as "grossly unfair".

Party Regional Secretary, Peter Hadden today commented:

"It is difficult enough for any smaller parties to make themselves heard above the electoral din of the sectarian and right wing parties. A major dispute is now brewing in the fire service with the employers reneging on a pay deal and with the Government bringing in legislation to curb the right of firefighters to strike.

"In this situation it is certain that Jim Barbour, as the Northern Ireland Executive member and the main local spokesperson of the FBU, will get TV and radio coverage. If this were to be regarded as electoral coverage and deducted from our partyís coverage, we would be left with little or no air time.

"On the other hand, if Jim Barbour does not give interviews on behalf of the FBU, firefighters and the public in Northern Ireland will not be fully informed of what is happening in the national negotiations in what could turn out to be a major dispute.

"We have no choice but to consider legal avenues to prevent us being gagged during the election."

For further comment contact Peter Hadden at the Socialist Party office: 902332962 or on 07732471427

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