Apology as Question Time minister labelled ‘Sinn Fein/IRA’

The BBC has apologised for a Question Time production gaffe that saw a Stormont minister labelled as being a member of “Sinn Fein/IRA”.

Sinn Fein Education Minister John O’Dowd, a panellist on the show in Belfast, was referred to by the term in a seating plan.

The title has long been used in a pejorative way by members of the unionist/loyalist community in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein, a Republican party, has always insisted it was a separate and solely political organisation.

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The BBC said the seating plan, which was attached to a camera in the studio, was written by a “technical staff” member. It was not broadcast but an audience member took a picture of the plan and tweeted it.

A BBC statement said: “The BBC is very sorry for any offence caused. The note was written by one of the technical staff on the programme for his own use. It was not authorised or endorsed by anyone on Question Time. The person responsible has been left in no doubt that it was insensitive and extremely naive.”

Question Time is produced by independent company Mentorn.