Armagh 'sniper' remarks slammed by Campbell

EAST Londonderry MP, Gregory Campbell, has added his voice to heavy criticism of a GAA player who made comments about a 'sniper' during a live BBC broadcast.

Wednesday, 26th May 2010, 12:50 pm

Calls have been made for the BBC to distance themselves from a comment made by former GAA footballer Shane King during an Ulster Championship between Derry and Armagh. The comment came during a discussion as to whether an Armagh player had deliberately dived to gain advantage during the match.

DUP MLA for Newry and Armagh William Irwin said: " Whilst discussing this the former Fermanagh and Down GAA player Shane King said, 'They talk about Armagh snipers. There was definitely a sniper at work there because I couldn't see any contact'."

Mr Irwin maintained that a reference to "Armagh snipers" could be interpreted as a reference to Provisional IRA terrorism in the south Armagh area and "the notorious fake signposts which were erected to glorify murders which took place in the area."

The MLA also called on the BBC to take "swift and decisive action" to distance themselves from such comments.

"The phrase used by Mr King was deeply offensive to all right-thinking people, but particularly the victims of terrorism in south Armagh who are still coping with the effects of the terrorist campaign," he said.

And, former NI Sports Minister, Gregory Campbell added: "These comments were simply unacceptable and represent an insult to the victims of IRA terrorism in south Armagh and right across Northern Ireland.

"Mr King's comments also do absolutely nothing for the image and reputation of the GAA amongst many within the Protestant community."

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "We are investigating the background to this complaint and understand the need for care in the use of language by commentators and BBC staff during live games. It is never our intention to cause offence."

It also emerged that the BBC later removed a recording of the GAA game from their i-player service because of the incident.

A spokesman for the GAA's Ulster Council said: "Mr King wasn't there in any capacity for the GAA. The comments were made off his own bat."