Northern Ireland

GB News correspondent Dougie Beattie makes spirited defence of heavily criticised broadcast on Ireland

GB News Northern Ireland reporter Dougie Beattie
GB News Northern Ireland reporter Dougie Beattie

GB News correspondent Dougie Beattie has delivered a spirited defence of a much talked-about and criticised broadcast on the channel this week.

The station's Northern Ireland reporter, in a two-way with the studio presenters and part of a wider package on immigration into Ireland, touched on the history of the common travel area (CTA), the Republic's infrastructure and the protocol.

Mr Beattie told his audience that the CTA allows people to go anywhere on the islands with no paperwork and has been in existence since the 1970s and that it was “reinforced during the protocol talks in 2016.”

The CTA was first agreed in 1923 and the protocol dates from 2019. Mr Beattie defended these assertions and others.

He also described the rest of the Republic outside Dublin as a place where there are no motorways and not that many schools, libraries or hospitals.

The package centered on the protests and counter protests around immigration in Dublin, with GB News describing the report as being on migrants using the Irish border to enter the UK without documentation.

"It is ironic that people can go anywhere inside the UK and Ireland with no paperwork but if you are a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps and happen to come here you have a massive, amazing, amount of paperwork," Mr Beattie told the station’s viewers and many others on social media.

The British and Irish governments last week celebrated the 100th anniversary of the CTA. It only applies to British and Irish citizens while there are immigration checks inside both countries.

Reporters on television only have a very short period of time to explain issues, Mr Beattie told the Irish News.

He claimed the CTA in its present form has been in existence since the 1970s as it went through changes since the 1923 agreement.

While the protocol was drawn up and agreed in 2019, he claimed his reference to 2016 was around the wider debate over the border.

In the weekend report the journalist told his GB News viewers and hundreds of thousands on social media: "Dublin is a truly magnificent European city that has come on leaps and bounds over many, many years.

“And now many immigrants are heading to the Republic of Ireland and staying there.

“And of course the infrastructure isn't that big. Once you go outside Dublin itself it is a bit like Kent or Sussex. The roads there are good but are not motorways. There are not many schools, libraries and housing is the biggest thing.”

Mr Beattie told the Irish News he had been talking more broadly about how the country’s infrastructure struggles to cope with an increasing population.

There are 14 motorway routes outside Dublin.

The Republic's motorway network. Picture from Wikipedia
The Republic's motorway network. Picture from Wikipedia

His piece prompted David Gordon, the Downtown radio presenter to reply: “What total utter rubbish. Sad thing is, some folk will believe him. Has Dougie ever driven on the M50 around Dublin? Exits to motorways that will take you all over the country. There are 3104 primary schools; 727 post-primary and at least 70 third level (colleges/universities)."

Andrea Catherwood, a BBC Radio 4 broadcaster said: "Where to begin...who is this guy?"

Mr Beattie questioned why The Irish News was doing a story on his reporting and suggested it was part of the broader media ignoring the anti-immigrant protests in the Republic.