Political news

BBC clarify Máirtín Ó Muilleoir claims about Emma Little Pengelly's father

Sinn Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly on BBC programme The View

THE BBC had to issue a clarification at the end its flagship politics programme after Sinn Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir made claims about DUP rival Emma Little Pengelly's father.

The pair clashed on The View during a debate between South Belfast candidates for next week's Westminster election broadcast from St George's Market on Thursday night.

In a heated exchange, Mr Ó Muilleoir refused to apologise for mentioning Ms Pengelly's father Noel Little after she urged the Sinn Féin MLA to condemn IRA bombings.

Mr Little was a founder of Ulster Resistance. In 1989 he was arrested in Paris in connection with a plot to exchange a missile stolen from Shorts for South African guns.

The weapons sought were destined for the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance. After spending two years on remand, he and two others received suspended sentences and fines.

His name was raised after Ms Pengelly defended her Westminster candidacy being endorsed in a magazine connected to the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group

Alliance's Paula Bradshaw called on Ms Pengelly to publicly reject the endorsement.

Ms Pengelly said the DUP has "clearly called for the UDA to go away, and all paramilitary organisations".

She added that the article in The Loyalist endorsed her because of the "hard work the DUP have been doing in the community for everybody".

Facing criticism from Mr Ó Muilleoir, she accused him of hypocrisy and urged him to condemn IRA acts of violence including the 1996 Manchester bombing.

In response, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: "I wasn't sure what point of this conversation I would get to mention your father, Emma, who when my father was being discriminated against working in the Harland and Wolff, was bringing in guns into this country which led to slaughter along the island."

Ms Pengelly interjected: "I'm going to stop you there. I think it's absolutely appalling for Máirtín to sit there and just say that.

"Because I think when Máirtín goes back to his group meeting of the MLAs from Sinn Féin and he looks left and right and he sees people in his party that have committed horrendous crimes, and I want him to think how would you feel, how would they feel, if their children – who had no responsibility for the actions of your colleagues – had to sit in a studio and hear abuse like you have just given me.

"It's a lack of respect, it is wrong, and I am going to call you out on that."

Asked by host Mark Carruthers if he wished to apologise, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: "I will not apologise for bringing up the question of Noel Little who brought in guns to this country.

"But if Emma had any self-respect, she would not be trying to lecture other people on the terrible conflict we have been through.

"You are the last person, the last person, to be lecturing."

Ms Pengelly said she has "clearly condemned all paramilitary violence".

At the end of the pre-recorded TV programme, a BBC continuity announcer said: "We have been asked to point out that Noel Little was never convicted of arms importation to Northern Ireland.

"He was given a suspended sentence and fined in a French court for his part in an intelligence plot."

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