An American television network is coming under increasing pressure to publicly apologise for branding the victims of Bloody Sunday as “IRA protesters”.
The gaffe occurred during a news report broadcast to millions of viewers tuned in to ABC’s popular ‘Good Morning America’ programme.
Reporting on Martin McGuinness’ recent meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, one of the US network’s reporters referred to the Deputy First Minister’s IRA past before stating: “The IRA’s clashes with Protestants often turned violent. In 1972, British troops killed IRA protesters at what became known as Bloody Sunday.”
Maura Young, whose 17-year-old brother John was among those murdered on January 30, 1972, was alerted to the ABC report by her sister who lives in Boston.
“My sister rang to tell me - she couldn’t believe it. We then watched it online and I was shocked. It’s totally wrong,” John Kelly, brother of victim Michael Kelly, said he was horrified that a TV giant like ABC could get it so wrong.
“After all the years of campaigning to try to change people’s perceptions, it’s frankly unbelievable and grossly unfair that ABC could have made this scandalous accusation,” he said. “It’s just unacceptable. We demand an apology.”
ABC says that, while it will “correct” any error made, it insists no retraction will be broadcast on air.
“Certainly, ABC is very receptive to hearing what you have to say,” a spokesperson for the TV network told the ‘Journal’ this week. “We hear you, we are looking into it, and we are always happy to correct any error that we make.”
Legal representatives for some of the Bloody Sunday families have already been in contact with the ABC network.
Peter Madden, of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, said: “The British government, at the time of Bloody Sunday, said the victims had been involved in a gun battle with soldiers and, essentially, this broadcast from ABC repeats that lie - which has very serious implications.”
Mr Madden is hopeful that an apology or retraction will be aired on ‘Good Morning America.’
“This reference was broadcast on national television so any apology or retraction will have to be aired on national television, too.”