Star Trek episode 'banned' for 34 years after it predicted Irish reunification in 2024 following terror campaign

4 March 2024, 16:26

Star Trek episode 'banned' for 34 years after it predicted Irish reunification in 2024 following terror campaign
Star Trek episode 'banned' for 34 years after it predicted Irish reunification in 2024 following terror campaign. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

A Star Trek episode that made reference to 'Irish unification in 2024' following a successful terror campaign is still banned in the Republic of Ireland it has been revealed.

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Series three, episode 12 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, entitled Higher Ground, was released in 1990 but did not air amid the febrile political situation on the island of Ireland at the time.

The character Data, known for his blunt analytical skills, but lack of emotional intelligence, recounts a terror organisation abducting a member of the Federation Starfleet starship USS Enterprise-D.

Data, played by Brent Spiner, then cites "Irish unification in 2024" as an example of violence helping achieve political aims.

In light of the episode's reference, the episode has only been aired on Irish television network RTÉ once in 34 years.

Star Trek: Next Generation
Star Trek: Next Generation. Picture: Alamy

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The BBC meanwhile finally gave approval for the episode to air in the UK in 2007 - 17 years after the episode's release. However it buried Higher Ground in a 2.40am graveyard slot and has not been repeated since.

Sky, however, chose to air the episode in 1992 but without the line referencing Irish unification.

In the episode, Data asks protagonist Jean-Luc Pickard whether terrorism can be an effective way to achieve political change.

"Yes, it can be," Picard responds, "but I have never subscribed to the theory that political power flows from the barrel of a gun.

“These are questions that mankind has been struggling with throughout history. Your confusion is only human.”

As well as Irish unification, Data cites Mexico's independence from Spain and a fictional event as examples of violence achieving political aims.

Minister of Finance Caoimhe Archibald (centre) with First Minister Michelle O'Neill (right), Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly, February 29
Minister of Finance Caoimhe Archibald (centre) with First Minister Michelle O'Neill (right), Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly, February 29. Picture: Alamy

The episode's writer Melinda M Snodgrass said the story deliberately resembled the situation in Northern Ireland in the 1990s.

She said she wanted to explore the idea that one person's freedom fighter is another's terrorist.

"These are complicated issues," she told the BBC. "And when do people feel like their back is so much against the wall that they have no choice but to turn to violence? And is that actually ever justified?

"I think what I wanted to say was: if we're talking and not shooting, we're in a better place."

The episode's prediction gained attention from Star Trek fans after Northern Ireland elected its first republican first minister this year.

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