Belfast Telegraph

Titanic criticism 'ill-informed'

Criticism of the Titanic commemoration events is "ill-informed", an Northern Ireland Assembly member said.

BBC presenter Andrew Marr branded parts of the anniversary schedule as "sordid and tasteless and dull", but Alliance Party MLA Chris Lyttle said he was wrong.

A memorial service was held at Belfast's city hall on Sunday to unveil bronze plaques to the 1,500 victims who died after the liner struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic in April 1912.

It was part of a programme which also featured an open-air MTV concert near the slipways where the vessel was launched.

Mr Lyttle said: "Esteemed journalist as he is, I think Marr on this occasion is ill-informed of the many dignified and creative ways that civic, community, church and political leaders have come together to balance celebration of a world-class innovation and endeavour but also to remember and respect the tragic loss of human life that occurred 100 years ago."

In a scathing attack, Glasgow-born presenter Mr Marr said the centenary anniversary had been treated as a celebration.

His Sunday morning programme The Andrew Marr Show, which attracts two million viewers, was not broadcast in Northern Ireland. BBC Northern Ireland instead broadcast a major live event to mark the new memorial garden and unique commemorative plaque at Belfast city hall.

Mr Marr said: "One hundred years ago today the Titanic sank, killing more than 1,500 people. We have had films, mini-series, cruises, we have been treating it like a national celebration. Will we be doing this for fatal air crashes? I may be completely alone in this, but I think it has been sordid and tasteless and dull and I hope after today we hear nothing more about this sad story except from the driest of dry historians."

A BBC spokesman said: "Andrew Marr opens every show with a personal observation, which he clears in advance with his editor. On this occasion Andrew felt strongly that he wanted to express his distaste at what he sees as the 'celebratory' and commercial nature of some of the activities around the centenary and the scale of focus on what was a national tragedy.

"He did not intend in any way to be critical of the solemn commemorations of the event and we are sorry if any viewer interpreted his comments in that way."

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