Victims ‘will judge merit of BBC meeting on its actions’

Kenny Donaldson Director of Services at the 'South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF). Picture Colm O'Reilly, Press Eye
Kenny Donaldson Director of Services at the 'South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF). Picture Colm O'Reilly, Press Eye

Members of a leading victims group say they will judge a meeting with the BBC on the basis of how the corporation’s Troubles legacy output develops going forward.

The meeting came after commentator Jude Collins tweeted that Patsy Gillespie – who was turned into a human bomb by the IRA in Londonderry – “chose” to do work for the security’ forces even after an IRA warning.

Chris Donnelly also angered victims recently when he questioned whether a memorial to 18 soldiers murdered at Narrow Water outside Warrenpoint should be preserved in light of sectarian vandalism.

Kenny Donaldson, the South East Fermanagh Foundation Director of Services, said his group has since met with the Head of BBC News NI, Adam Smyth and colleagues to discuss the issues.

SEFF engaged to “resolve the deficit which currently exists” around media coverage and the group “robustly argued” for further programmes to illustrate the experience of victims of terrorism along the border and in south Down at the hands of the IRA, he said. He added that the experiences of such people are “rarely acknowledged” in BBC programmes.

“The discussions were very open and frank and we presented the BBC with solutions” he said. “We will now judge the merits of today’s direct exchange in how matters develop in the times ahead.”

A BBC spokesman said it appreciated the opportunity to discuss its output with SEFF and that it seeks to reflect the views and experiences of all local communities. “We understand the need for care and sensitivity in our handling of Troubles-related stories and also their potential impact on victims and survivors.”

BBC programming in this area has sought to explore the events and legacies of conflict and to provide a forum for debate. “All of this work is ongoing”. The BBC takes its editorial responsibilities around Troubles content “extremely seriously” and welcomes all feedback, he added.