Let’s talk about some things but not about others?  by Fra Hughes



Has BBCNI changed? Once perceived as the bastion of British interests in the North of Ireland, its recent wall-to-wall coverage of the funeral they won’t let rest in peace has dogged the media for almost a week.

The Nolan and Crawley shows seem intent on poring over every last aspect of the funeral and cremation of Bobby Storey.

We must ask: are they simply reflecting or mirroring societal concern, creating an even bigger story for their listeners?  Or stoking up tension in the week before the Twelfth, traditionally a time of unease amid marches, band parades and intercommunal strife.

The burial of Bobby Storey as a public spectacle appears to have ruffled a few feathers in the lower echelons of Broadcasting House.

We have witnessed  – seen and heard  – a plethora of professional paid commentators and a few of the huddled masses ringing in to voice abhorrence, disdain and dismay at Bobby Storey’s funeral and all those who attended

Is BBCNI reflecting the story as is, or simply going for ratings by having the issue constantly rehashed, refreshed and refocused?

The funeral of Bobby Storey, a republican icon, had several hundred mourners walking behind the funeral cortege and many onlookers lining the funeral procession route to the cemetery.

This outpouring of grief has been used by the media to lambast, vilify and intimidate Michelle O’Neill and the Sinn Fein leadership.

It appears to be the media and the political opponents of Sinn Féin who are now making capital from the distress of Mr Storey’s funeral and his grieving family.

Contrast the media frenzy and focus on every miniscule detail of what happened during that funeral with other similar gatherings in the city, in and around the same time, only a few short miles away, and we can see how differently these events are commented upon.

A tale of two funerals with two different storey lines? Two funerals, two different reactions, one media.

The tragic disappearance and death of young Noah Donohoe is an example of the dubious standards applied by BBCNI and the mainstream as exampled by the Nolan and Crawley shows 

If it was wrong for mourners to gather at Bobby Storey’s funeral then surely it was wrong for people to gather at the searches for Noah, his vigil and his funeral procession. I know because I attended three searches for Noah.

On Tuesday night, then again on Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon, we only desisted when the family asked the community to step back to allow the search and rescue team full access to the search sites.

I searched along  Premier Drive, the Shore Road and Mount Vernon, knocking on doors, looking in gardens and asking people to check outhouses and garages.

There was no social distancing as people gathered to form search parties.

No social distancing when we had coffee in the Hub Community Centre Shore Road and while gathered outside it, awaiting direction.

At his Vigil, after his body was found,  I stood with hundreds of others as members of the search team, the family and political representatives including DUP officials stood as one, not socially separate.

Nor on his funeral route where mourners, friends, classmates, the rescue team and many who had taken part in the searches all wanted to say farewell to the young man who touched so many hearts

I do not berate the people who stood in respect for Noah. 

I do not berate the people who stood in respect for Bobby.

During a worldwide pandemic were both groups wrong ? Probably.

Were both groups simply being respectful? Probably.

Should people be fined, prosecuted, asked to resign? No.

I did not attend Bobby’s funeral but I attended Noahs funeral.

For the state media to put Mr Storey’s funeral in the full glare of the public eye while simultaneously ignoring all the obvious comparisons between both funerals is in my view a political choice made by those who wish to interfere in and affect local politics to the disadvantage of Sinn Féin.

I have no dog in this fight. I simply see the disparity, the duplicity and the dishonesty of the hierarchy of funerals as expressed by the BBCNI and their champions of talk.

Is it simply ratings or is it something more sinister?

It is fair and I believe honest to compare both funerals and it is appropriate to critique the coverage and reportage of both these events by BBCNI and other mainstream media

I hope both Bobby and Noah are now at peace and I hope both the Storey and Donohoe family can find the strength and comfort they need to grieve in peace.

In conclusion to all those who claim we are all in this together and must abide by the guidelines and regulations, I have a simple question. If the Queen as head of the British State died tomorrow, would there be a limit of 30 people in attendance at the funeral? 

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