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MP slams The Fall beach scene after Donegal pier drowning tragedy

Episode features man’s bid to save children trapped in car

By Ali Gordon

Published 17/10/2016

Harrowing scene from The Fall
Harrowing scene from The Fall
Harrowing scene from The Fall
Harrowing scene from The Fall
HUNTING SEASON: Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector in The Fall
Jamie Dornan in The Fall
Jamie Dornan in The Fall series 3. Pic: BBC
Gillian Anderson
Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector in The Fall series 3. Pic: @TheFallTV
The Fall stars Gillian Anderson (DSI Stella Gibson) and Jamie Dornan, who portrays serial killer Paul Spector
Gillian Anderson
Actress Seainin Brennan with Jamie Dornan in The Fall
Role play: Jamie Dornan has admitted he stalked a woman on the underground for his part in The Fall, alongside Gillian Anderson
Murderer Paul Spector played by Jamie Dornan
Bronagh Waugh with Jamie Dornan in The Fall
Jamie Dornan plays serial killer Paul Spector
Jamie Dornan in The Fall
The Fall
Jamie Dornan reprising his role as serial killer Paul Spector
Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson in The Fall series 3. Pic: @TheFallTV
Gillian Anderson in Belfast-made, BBC2 crime thriller The Fall
The Fall - ACC Jim Burns (John Lynch
Double trouble: John Lynch has loved working with Gillian Anderson in The Fall
Arresting role: Gillian Anderson
Gillian Anderson in The Fall

The makers of hit BBC drama The Fall have been accused of being “insensitive” to the families involved in the Buncrana pier tragedy.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has raised concerns over a scene in the thriller series which will screened on RTE tonight and on BBC Two on Thursday night which has some disturbing similarities to the heartbreaking accident in Buncrana in March.

Viewers last week saw Bronagh Waugh’s distraught character Sally-Ann Spector — wife of the alleged Belfast strangler — park her car on a local beach late at night with her two sleeping children after she apparently stirred a sedative into their warm milk drink.

In this week’s episode, a lone man is seen jumping out of his car and racing down the beach in a bid to rescue Sally and her children as waves lap around her car.

The dramatic scenes are eerily similar to the tragedy in Buncrana, in which Ruth Daniels, 57, her daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, 14, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, 49, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, from Londonderry all drowned when Sean’s car accidentally went off the pier in March.

Brave Davitt Walsh swam through the freezing water of Lough Swilly to rescue baby Rioghnach-Ann McGrotty from the sinking Audi Q7 car after it slid off the pier.

Unlike that incident, the scene in The Fall is no accident, fragile Sally Ann is suicidal, but the frantic rescue bid has echoes of Davitt Walsh’s heroism.

“The producers of The Fall, and any programme for that matter, need to be mindful of  the circumstances around them,” East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell told Sunday Life.

“To make a TV show in Northern Ireland in similar circumstances to what happened in Buncrana just six months ago seems very insensitive.”

The beach rescue attempt scene in this week’s The Fall is shown via a BBC Newsline report being watched by shocked police officers including Gillian Anderson’s Stella Gibson.       

Louise McGrotty with baby Rioghnach-Ann, who survived the tragedy, and son Evan (8), who lost his life
Louise McGrotty with baby Rioghnach-Ann, who survived the tragedy, and son Evan (8), who lost his life
Jodie Lee Daniels
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Sean McGrotty
Proud granny Ruth Daniels gives Mark and Evan McGrotty a hug
Sean McGrotty (49) with son Mark (12)
Ruth Daniels (59) with daughter Jodi-Lee (14)
Sean McGrotty and his two sons Evan and Mark died at the scene. His partner Louise wasn’t present at the time of the tragedy, but her baby Rioghnach-Ann, whom she is cradling here, was rescued
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Jodi-Lee playing with nephew Evan
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
The family’s Q7 which slid into Lough Swilly
Buncrana pier tragedy: Former Ballymena United footballer Davitt Walsh heroically dived into the water and saved baby. Image: RTE News
Mark (12) and eight-year-old Evan.
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Sean McGrotty
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Ruth Daniels
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels.
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie-Lee Daniels.
Martin McGuinness at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels
Garda Superintendent Colm Nevin speaks to the media. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
John McCarthy from the RNLI at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Garda at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Presseye
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Presseye
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Joe Bolan / Press Eye
Tributes left at the scene of the tragedy. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Emergency services on the pier at Buncrana after yesterday’s tragic accident
Rescue services at the pier in Buncrana where a family of five perished after their car slide into Loch Swilly
The pier in daylight
Algae on the slipway which would have made it difficult for the vehicle to get any traction
An Audi Q7 like the one in which the family got trapped

A BBC Newsline presenter introduces the bulletin telling viewers there was a dramatic incident involving the wife of the alleged Belfast strangler, Paul Spector, and she then issues a warning that viewers may find footage of the incident disturbing.

The report cuts to video footage shot by a person at the beach.  A woman shouts, “Oh my God, that’s a car!” before a male in a wetsuit runs into the sea to help.

“Be careful,” she shouts.

The shaky camera footage sees Sally-Ann’s car being engulfed by the incoming tide.

The reporter then says “the windows are raised, the doors are locked, inside are her two children”.

A moment is then described which mirrors the heartbreaking reports of Buncrana tragedy eye-witnesses — the screaming.

In The Fall, the BBC presenter tells of how “the girl aged eight can be heard calling for help” as the water rises around the car.

“A moment later the car is almost washed away,” the presenter says.

Both Assistant Chief Constable Jim Burns, played by John Lynch, and Gillian Anderson’s DCI Stella Gibson are moved to tears watching the shocking scenes unfold.

Burns asks Crawford: “How were we to know she was that desperate?” To which she replies: “It’s what women do with their anger, Jim. What frame of mind would she have been in to think that they would all be better off dead.”

DUP MP Campbell added: “What happened in Buncrana was totally devastating and seeing this again could well shake up a lot of emotions. So many people are still aware of it so with there being a man on the beach, like the man who rescued the baby in Buncrana and his girlfriend, in the show, it seems very early.”

Last Friday, Sunday Life’s Spirt of Northern Ireland winner Davitt, from Kerrykeel, was awarded the Michael Heffernan Gold Medal for Marine Gallantry for saving Rioghnach-Ann’s life.

Louise James, the McGrotty children’s mother, has also been recognised by Pride of Britain for raising £15,000 in memory of her son, Evan, who had Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

 

Online Editors

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