Belfast Telegraph

Outrage as E4 American sitcom makes joke referencing Shankill bomb

By Claire Williamson

Channel 4 has come underfire after it sparked outrage by posting a clip of one of its American sitcoms making a joke with an apparent reference to the 1993 Shankill bomb.

The bombing was one of the worst atrocities of The Troubles which saw nine Protestant civilians, including two children aged seven and 13, killed in the attack at Frizzell's fish shop on October 23, 1993.

Sean Kelly was one of the two-man team who carried out the bombing.

The IRA claimed their intention was to assassinate the UDA leadership, due to be meeting in a room above Frizzell's fish shop.

Instead, their bomb exploded prematurely, killing nine people in the shop, including Kelly's terrorist partner, Thomas Begley, and wounding 50 more.

US sitcom called Black-ish made the reference in an episode where two parents are discussing their son's political identity.

In the clip parents Dre and Bow are discussing that they "have a problem" because they believe their son has become a member of the Republican Party in America.

They discuss the definition of it before one asks “A member of the Irish Republican Army?” to which the other responds “What the hell!”

The other adds: “Okay, Okay, If you got to take down a couple of fish and chips shops to be free of British Rule, Dre you gotta do what you gotta do."

The clip was posted on Channel 4's on demand service All 4's Facebook page on Thursday with the heading 'When politics splits your family'.

There was a barrage of comments under the post which has since been taken down.

Belfast councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston said she had made an official complaint to Channel 4 and that she was "flabbergasted" by the "insensitive reference" and said the show "crossed the line".

She said: "I have contacted channel 4 this morning and lodged a complaint. There is no comedy to be found in the loss of life let alone one of the most notorious incidents of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

"This was brought to my attention early this morning having woke to a string of messages from people who were both angry and deeply hurt by its content.

"This isn’t a case of a sensitive audience or a loss in a sense of humour, this is quite simply moral bankruptcy. There is dark humour and then there is downright ignorance. This show crossed the line.

"I have spoken with channel 4s complaint team this morning and I am waiting on a formal response. I expect All 4 to remove the social media post and replace it with an apology furthermore I expect Channel 4 to escalate the complaint to ABC studios, the creator and executive producers of Blackish.”

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "The clip was taken from the long-running American sitcom Blackish and was posted on social media, out of the context of the episode, in error and has since been removed. We apologise if any offence has been caused by this clip.”

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