Belfast Telegraph

BBC refuses to say how many complained in wake of Martin McGuinness funeral coverage

By Claire O'Boyle

The BBC last night came under fire for refusing to disclose how many complaints had been filed over its coverage of Martin McGuinness's death.

After a public backlash last week accusing the corporation of using "fawning" language and even "eulogising" the one-time IRA leader, this newspaper asked just how many complaints had been made.

But a spokesperson for the Beeb said: "We don't comment on the nature or number of complaints. When complaints raise issues of wider audience interest, a reply will often be published on the BBC complaints website."

The TUV's Jim Allister said he had heard from countless victims who had been hurt by the coverage. "At my office we had seven people in tears about what they had seen and heard on the BBC," he said.

"People whose lives were ruined by the IRA. I had more calls from victims over this than I have heard complaints about anything else in recent years.

"People were very upset. Not just about the language used about this 'great peacemaker', but also that for 24 hours after Mr McGuinness' funeral, every time you turned on the radio Bill Clinton's speech was played over and over again. It was very hurtful for grieving people to listen to again and again."

He added: "Martin McGuinness was eulogised, even idolised, and I while I have no doubt there was political motivation behind that, it didn't make it any easier for victims to hear. The BBC overdid it.

"As far as I could see, they wanted to make things seem better than they were to help along the political process and get things agreed before Monday's deadline. Well that didn't work, and they overstepped the mark."

Letters, Page 28

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