Was the 1988 broadcasting ban placed on Northen Ireland by Britain a justifiable act?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In 1988, the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland were continuing, with various paramilitary groups launching attacks on government and public venues. In response, the British government issued a ban on vocal broadcast from Sinn Féin, the left-wing political party associated with the Provisional IRA. The immediate result of the ban was that while stations could still broadcast news and the written words of their affiliated groups, they could not broadcast the original voice; a different person had to read the statements.

Britain's justification for the ban was based on stifling speech, which they believed would also stifle acts of terrorism; if the leaders could not be heard in person, members would not be as committed to their tasks. They also intended to use the ban to keep Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Féin, out of public debate and media, thus keeping control of the media narrative. However, the ban backfired, with news of the government censorship reaching across England and Europe, and the result was that Sinn Féin gained a wider audience for its actions and message.


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