Attorney general advised against relaxing Sinn Féin broadcasting ban in 1983

Rejection followed 1982 SF ardfheis motion calling on local election candidates to be ‘unambivalent in support of the armed struggle’

Jim Mitchell considered requests that the prohibition be relaxed so elected Sinn Féin county councillors might be interviewed

Jim Mitchell considered requests that the prohibition be relaxed so elected Sinn Féin county councillors might be interviewed

Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 01:00

One of the first issues the new Fine Gael-Labour government had to deal with in January 1983 was whether to renew the ban on interviews with Sinn Féin spokespersons under section 31 of the Broadcasting Act.

Roscommon County Council passed a resolution calling for the lifting of the ban and the Neil Blaney organisation had made a similar request a few months earlier to the previous Haughey government.

A memo to cabinet from minister for posts and telegraphs Jim Mitchell (pictured) informed colleagues the ban would be renewed for another year.

Mr Mitchell said he had considered requests that the prohibition be relaxed
so elected Sinn Féin county councillors might be interviewed on local authority issues.

However, he had rejected the idea because of a motion passed at the 1982 Sinn Féin ardfheis instructing that all the party’s local election candidates must be “unambivalent in support of the armed struggle” and that all campaign material be emphatic in its support for the armed struggle. He said the attorney general had advised him on the “obligation on the State to ensure that the organs of public opinion are not used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State”.