BBC confirms footage showing Irish tricolour at jubilee was made in-house as flag fallout continues: ‘You would think they triple-check these things’

Unionists of differing stripes have continued to heap criticism upon the BBC for displaying the Republic of Ireland’s national flag outside Buckingham Palace during the Queen’s jubilee celebrations, in place of a Northern Ireland flag.

By Adam Kula
Monday, 6th June 2022, 4:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 1:08 pm

Meanwhile the BBC has confirmed that the erroneous footage had been put together in-house, rather than by an outside company hired for the occasion.

The error with the flags happened midway through Saturday night’s open-air jubilee show on BBC1.

While a performer called Doc Brown was delivering a rap about the UK, the giant screen behind him showed an English flag, Scottish flag, red Welsh dragon... and an Irish tricolour.

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The Irish flag outside Buckingham Palace during the broadcast

The following afternoon the BBC said this: “The incorrect flag appeared in a brief montage during Doc Brown’s appearance last night.

“We apologise for the error and the sequence will be edited on iPlayer.”

But pressed for further details today – such as whether the incident was definitely a mistake rather than mischief on the part of an employee – the BBC said “we have nothing further to add” except to confirm that “the film was made by BBC Studios”.

Today Mike Nesbitt, who was a BBC and UTV broadcaster and former leader of the UUP, told the News Letter: “I just think it’s embarrassing for them particularly as it’s such a high profile event so you have to assume everything was checked, double checked and triple checked.

“It just struck me as a sort of super-typo.”

As to whether there was any rogue intent behind it, he said: “I would always go for cock-up over conspiracy on an issue like that.”

He added: “I mean there are times when I’ve been in charge of documents that’ve had typos in them, and have been checked by three, four, five people, including myself.

“Then when you see it, when it’s pointed out to you, you go: Oh my God, how did that happen?”

‘REALLY A HORRENDOUS MISTAKE’:

Billy Moore BEM, general secretary of the Apprentice Boys, said: “I think whoever was involved in vetting this here really should be reviewing their position, because that’s really a horrendous mistake to make.

“It’s just another cog in the wheel of making us feel separate and different and so forth.”

He said that he must “register our abhorrence at what took place”.

As to whether it was a true mistake, he indicated it is “difficult” to be sure.

Susan Stewart sells Union flags and loyalist paraphernalia for a living, as owner of Victor Stewart Enterprises in Lurgan.

She said the blunder was “a disgrace” and noted that during a different part of the festivities the Ulster Banner had been correctly displayed (see sidebar).

“Somebody needs to be educated – we are still British,” she said.

“And the flags are not even the same colour. How could they genuinely [make this] mistake – like, truthfully?”

As to whether this could have been an intentional dig that was slipped in, she said: “Yes, definitely.”

It is often said that Northern Ireland has no flag of its own, although the Ulster Banner (a red cross on a white background, with a red hand, star, and crown) acts as the Province’s de facto emblem.

Ulster University says: “In 1953 the ‘Ulster Banner’ was adopted as the flag of Northern Ireland by the Stormont administration.

“The administration was prorogued in 1972 and following the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 this flag ceased to have any official standing.”

VIEWERSHIP HIT HIGH OF OVER 13 MILLION:

It has also emerged that the Saturday night Platinum Party At The Palace was the most-watched programme of the year across all channels, with a peak viewing figure of 13.4 million, and an average audience of 11.2 million, according to the corporation.

Sunday’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant, also on BBC1, drew a peak audience of 8.7 million viewers and had an average audience of 6.3 million.

To put that into some kind of context, the Joe Rogan Experience, a US internet-based talk show which is often cited as the most popular podcast in the world, is reputed to draw a global average audience of some 11 million or so per episode.

WHAT DOES TWITTER HAVE TO SAY?:

∙ Kate Hoey

@CatharineHoey (ex-Labour MP, now baroness)

I hope it was a genuine mistake but the way @bbcni treats those who believe in the Union and on BBC nationally I have my doubts. It has happened before on @BBCNews

∙ Naomi O’Leary

@NaomiOhReally (Europe correspondent for the Irish Times)

Someone mistaking the Irish tricolour as representing a part of the UK, I mean, it’s not a massive surprise. But for it to happen in an event celebrating the Union and its constituent parts, without anyone spotting the error in planning, rehearsals ...

∙ Nick Buckley

@NickBuckleyMBE (charity worker)

How can the BBC not know the flag of Northern Ireland? Sums up the organisation.

∙ Donald Clarke

@DonaldClarke63 (Irish Times film critic)

This hilarious screw-up does at least bring together both “traditions” in the northern part of Ireland. Hard to say which would be the more apoplectic.

∙ Ronan McGreevy

@RMcGreevy1301 (author)

What is most interesting about this mistake is that presumably it went through dozens of eyes before being broadcast and nobody noticed the Irish tricolour (tricolour being a symbol of republicanism in Europe) or twigged it is not the flag of NI.

∙ Beechie

@BeechieWestie (“a rank and file SF member”)

Had they not used the tricolour, inadvertently or not, what flag would they have used? Northern Ireland doesn’t have its own official flag. Maybe this was the source of the confusion.

∙ Kevin Creagh

@MarxistSaint (a member of People Before Profit)

The BBC, doing more for Irish Unity than Fine Gael ever will. The union is dying & Loyalists know that the “mainland” want nothing to do with them so they’ll complain about flags, as usual. In fairness the tricolour does, in part, represent Unionism.

∙ Cymru am Byth

@Penyrheolgerrig

I thought that flying the Irish tricolour at the jubilee was a kind gesture to the many republicans in Northern Ireland.

LONG HISTORY OF FURORES OVER FLAGS AND MAPS:

This is hardly the first time a representation of Ireland has stirred controversy.

Just last year, during a news segment on Brexit, RTE used a map of the UK and Ireland which showed Donegal as part of the UK.

The flag of the Ivory Coast (orange, white and green) has commonly been mistaken for the Irish tricolour (which is the same in reverse) by everyone from Wayne Rooney in a St Patrick’s Day message to Sinn Fein councillor Patrice Hardy.

In a tweet marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, the latter reportedly wrote: “Up the rebels!”... followed by 13 flags of the west African nation.

And it doesn’t stop with Ireland of course; in 2012 there was a diplomatic spat after the London Olympics used a flag of South Korea to illustrate North Korea’s women’s football team; the countries have been at war since 1950.

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