This morning I was interviewed on the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster, along with Patricia MacBride.
The presenter was Vinny Hurrell and he started the interviews by saying: 'Let's discuss with the commentator Patricia MacBride and the former DUP MLA Nelson McCausland.'
How contributors are introduced on the programme is something I had raised before with the presenter and so today he very courteously asked me if I was content to be described as 'a former DUP MLA'. 'Nelson, I can't remember, do you like it or not like it when I refer to you as a former DUP MLA?
I replied, 'Well I'm not a person who would have any difficulty with that, obviously.'
Vinny then responded by saying, 'I think you told me off before.'
I responded, 'I did but we should give everyone's political background and I think it would be fair to say that if I was described as a unionist, Patricia MacBride might well be described, I'm sure she wouldn't disagree with it, as a republican.'
Vinny asked Patricia MacBride, 'Are you happy with that?' and she replied 'Oh, absolutely.'
Vinny said, 'Oh, fair enough' and I added, 'That perhaps shows a better approach in future.' This part of the exchange ended with Vinny saying, 'Note taken, thank you Nelson' and I also thanked him. So there it was, a 'unionist' commentator and a 'republican' commentator, and that's balance.
The word commentator is a neutral word that carries no political connotation. It is a soft and neutral term that almost suggests impartiality. So the original introduction suggested 'unionist politician' versus 'neutral commentator' and that was of course a misrepresentation of the situation. In reality it was a 'unionist' commentator on one hand and a 'republican' commentator on the other.
On her twitter account Patricia describes herself as 'Law and policy, political commentator. Working on human rights, refugees, victims and policy/public affairs. Fond of horses and hurling.'
Indeed down through the years she has been introduced on BBC radio and television programmes in various ways, as a 'commentator'. a 'legal affairs consultant' and a 'former victims' commissioner'. So I hope that the message will spread across the BBC that Patricia is indeed a commentator but she is a republican commentator.
|Antoine Mac Giolla Bhridghe (Anthony MacBride)|
Patricia grew up in a republican family. Her brother Anthony MacBride, also known as Antoine Mac Giolla Bhridhge, was a member of the Provisional IRA. He served a prison sentence for terrorism and was shot dead by the SAS on 2 December 1984 when he was a member of an IRA gang 'on active service'.
Another brother, Lughaidh Mac Giolla Bhridghe, was a Sinn Fein councillor and according to an article in An Phoblacht Anthony learned his republicanism from his grandmother, who had fought in the War of Independence.