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Tuesday 2 September 2014

BBC and RTE to 'simulcast' Troubles probe

JIM CUSACK

Published 28/04/2013 | 05:00

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REVAMP: RTE’s new Managing Director of News and Current Affairs, Kevin Bakhurst, has overhauled the department

RTE AND BBC Northern Ireland are linking up for the first time in a simultaneous broadcast of a major current affairs investigation into the people murdered and "disappeared" by the IRA.

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The joint "simulcast" could also be embarrassing on both sides of the Border for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who has repeatedly denied being involved in the murder and disappearance of mother-of-10 Jean McConville.

Industry insiders say the "simulcast" is a major departure for RTE's current affairs department, which is being revamped under new managing director, Kevin Bakhurst. Sources in RTE said that Mr Bakhurst has quietly been making substantial changes and the decision to move into joint current affairs programming with the BBC in Belfast is "historic" in terms of the Republic's national broadcaster.

Until now, only sporting events were shared in simulcasts between the stations, usually British soccer matches.

RTE's Prime Time has begun returning to its in-depth reporting on serious issues.

Prime Time will link up with BBC Northern Ireland's This World, which produced last year's Bafta-nominated investigation into sexual abuse in the church, the award-winning The Shame of the Catholic Church.

The fact that the first joint simulcast is to be about the murdered and secretly buried victims of the IRA is regarded as very significant within current affairs. RTE has carried out very few major investigations of IRA crimes since the Peace Process began in Northern Ireland.

A source said: "This historic event marks a new direction, a breath of fresh air. They are reopening the files of the disappeared, crimes by the IRA which are a blot on the countryside of Ireland. This is clearly a very important story and the investigation will shed new light on the story. It will presumably be embarrassing for Gerry Adams."

Mr Adams has denied claims by former IRA members in Belfast that he gave the order for Mrs McConville, who was a widow, to be murdered and secretly buried in December 1972. The IRA murdered and secretly buried at least 14 people. After the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 the IRA provided details of the burial places and so far nine bodies have been recovered.

The IRA did not provide details of the burial place of Mrs McConville, whose remains were uncovered at Templetown Beach on the Cooley Peninsula.

Irish Independent

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