'Next Generation' Episode Causes Controversy in Ireland

By Michelle
April 23, 2007 - 9:03 PM

Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The High Ground", which predicts a united Ireland by 2024 and portrays Dr. Crusher as the victim of a terrorist attack, continues to cause controversy in Belfast, where it is scheduled to be shown at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

"Unionists turn their phasers on Star Trek," reported The Belfast Telegraph, quoting the character Data saying in the episode that Ireland would be reunified as the result of a successful terrorist campaign. East Belfast DUP councillor Robin Newton said that showing the episode in Ireland might be perceived as an attack on unionism.

"When this film was in production back in 1990 anyone forecasting the prospect of Sinn Fein decommissioning their guns, supporting the police, recognising the courts and taking ministerial positions within the UK's Stormont administration would have been looked upon as not living in the real world," said Newton. Now that these are political facts, according to Newton, "Whether it is from partisan fictional propaganda or a party line political source unionist confidence can withstand the attack."

Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival director Sean Kelly denied any partisan intention, telling BBC News that he hoped to attract "die hard Trekkies" to the festival and air the episode "because of the issues it raises in relation to censorship."

Both the BBC and RTE have refused to show "The High Ground", which has never been broadcast on terrestrial television in the UK or Ireland.

Given the "optimistic situation" in Northern Ireland, Kelly added, "people will see the funny side of an occasion on which the powers that be decided to censor an episode of a popular science-fiction series because of what was happening politically at the time."

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