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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 April 2007, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Star Trek predicts a united Ireland
By Johnny Caldwell
BBC News

An episode of sci-fi cult show Star Trek, which predicts Irish reunification by 2024, looks set to cause controversy at this year's Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast.

In the episode entitled 'The High Ground', which some Trekkie somewhere no doubts knows by heart, Dr Beverly Crusher while helping the wounded victims of a terrorist attack on "a non-aligned planet" is taken hostage.

Image from The High Ground - copyright Startrek.com
The crew get in trouble while helping the wounded

In his musings about what happened to the Starship Enterprise's chief medical officer, android Data says that Ireland would be reunified in 2024 as a result of a successful terrorist campaign.

Due to what no doubt many people will still consider to be sensitive content, the episode has never been shown on terrestrial TV in UK or in the Republic of Ireland and initial airings on Sky One were edited.

However, Sean Kelly, director of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, hopes its screening will attract "die hard Trekkies, and people of every political persuasion and none".

"We're not showing it in a partisan way, and we certainly don't want it to be seen as any kind of propaganda. We're showing it because of the issues it raises in relation to censorship," he said.

"It dates from 1990, a time when songs, including one by the Pogues, were being banned and republican politicians' voices being dubbed by actors.

"It's hard to believe that but both the BBC and RTE refused to show it and it still hasn't been shown on terrestrial TV in the UK or Ireland."

The USS Enterprise D - copyright Startrek.com
The Star Trek: The Next Generation writers predicted Irish re-unification
Mr Kelly went on to say that given the "optimistic situation" in Northern Ireland at the moment, he thought "many 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."

He added that in addition to this "particular slice of sci-fi", this year's Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival promised "a hugely eclectic line-up which would satisfy most tastes".

For further information about the 2007 Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, which runs from Thursday 3 May until Sunday 13 May, visit www.cqaf.com.

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