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IRA victim's son hits out after Beeb backs journalist's comment

By Victoria Leonard

A man orphaned after his father was shot by the IRA has rejected the BBC's defence of a veteran reporter's comments that "by and large" the IRA tried to avoid deliberately killing civilians.

Journalist Peter Taylor has been criticised for his remarks on Saturday's BBC Breakfast programme.

He said: "They killed many civilians, let's not underestimate that, but by and large the IRA tactic was not to deliberately kill civilians - although many civilians, I hasten to add, were killed by the IRA."

In response to criticism of Mr Taylor's comments from victims and victim support groups, the BBC said he had "made it very clear that many civilians were victims of the IRA".

However, Sammy Heenan, whose father William was murdered in 1985 outside his home in Legananny, Co Down, by an IRA gunman said he rejected Mr Taylor's implication that civilians were "collateral damage" for the IRA.

"The IRA deliberately targeted civilians to pursue their united Ireland agenda," he said.

"They were targeted in Tullyvallen, Kingsmill, La Mon - there was a systematic campaign of targeting anyone who was in a Protestant area.

"People like Peter Taylor are feeding into a distorted narrative, manipulating the mindset of the emerging generation that we are all equally culpable. There is a linguistic war taking place.

"We as victims are fighting hard to ensure a proper narrative is conveyed. It's difficult and frustrating, and we feel hurt and betrayal at comments like these.

"My father was a civilian, he hadn't been in the B Specials for 15 years. He was an Orangeman and we lived in one of the most isolated and rural parts of Northern Ireland.

"The IRA's South Down command took responsibility for my father's murder and tried to justify it by saying he was an RUC reservist, which he never was."

Victims spokesman Kenny Donaldson described the BBC response as a "cop-out".

He said: "The BBC claims that during the interview Peter Taylor 'made it clear that many civilians were victims of the IRA' - this is not the point.

"The point is that the BBC have not stated clearly the truth that the IRA, like loyalist terrorists, systematically targeted civilians on the basis of their perceived religion and/or ethnicity."

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