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“Massive error in judgement”: Mirror editor apologises for Ní Bheoláin dog-walk pics

The Six One host said yesterday she was considering a complaint to the Press Council over the photos, which were published in the wake of a stalking ordeal for the journalist.

Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated at 9.56am

THE EDITOR OF the Irish Daily Mirror earlier today issued an apology to Sharon Ní Bheoláin over the paper’s decision to publish paparazzi-style pictures of the RTÉ journalist out walking her dog at the weekend.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, John Kierans said the move had been a “massive error in judgement”. He also apologised for the wording of the copy that accompanied the pictures on page three of yesterday’s paper. The headline referred to the presenter as “feeling a bit ruff”.

His comments followed the Six One host’s statement yesterday that she was considering making a complaint to the Press Council over the photos, which appeared in three national papers yesterday. They show her out walking her dog, dressed casually in tartan pyjama bottoms, a jumper and a white hat.

Their publication came in the wake of a stalking ordeal for the journalist. A 37-year-old man was detained last week in connection with the investigation, after Ní Bheoláin told gardaí she was being followed and had been sent abusive messages.

Quick decision

Kierans said the paper had had to make a quick decision over whether to publish the photos, and that the copy had been written ‘”late at night”. He said the issue of whether their coverage was appropriate had also prompted a row in the tabloid’s newsroom.

“In hindsight, I made a massive error in judgement and I regret that and I apologise to Sharon on the Mirror’s behalf.

Kierans said the photographer had been paid a “three figure sum” for the photos, and that the weekend team working in the paper had “thought they were an innocuous set of pictures” when they were sent in to the newsroom on Sunday.

In the context of a wider discussion on whether it was appropriate for papers to publish pictures of famous people going about their daily business, Kierans said there was a huge audience for coverage of celebrities, particularly among women.

“In know Sharon Ní Bheoláin regards herself as a very very serious journalist who reads the news and doesn’t regard herself as a celebrity,” Kierans said, before remarking that some people “would regard her as a celebrity because she’s on television”.

“If you’re on the telly, you’re a celebrity.”

Kierans said there had been only a limited interest in the photos when they were published on the Mirror website yesterday morning, but that the numbers viewing had soared in the wake of Ní Bheoláin’s public reaction yesterday afternoon.

The journalist went on Joe Duffy’s ‘Liveline’ yesterday to give her reaction to the coverage, and said she had been more upset at the tabloid photos than “at any stage over the past six weeks”.

“This isn’t the Kardashians, for goodness sake. I’m a very regular Joe Soap who just happens to be on the news every night. My lifestyle is very ordinary.”

Editor of the Irish Sun Paul Clarkson this morning defended his paper’s decision to print the photos, and said Ní Bheoláin was “blowing this out of all proportion”.

Asked by Newstalk’s Pat Kenny whether he appreciated the irony of the situation — in that the photos were of a person who had recently been targeted by a stalker, Clarkson said:

“She was talking on Joe Duffy yesterday which actually blew this issue even more out of proportion — that there was people hiding in bushes and all that. I guarantee you the freelance photographer who sent those photos around to papers — he wasn’t hiding in bushes, he was on a public street.”

Ní Bheoláin called the photographer who took the snaps “deranged”.

First posted at 11.20am

Read: Sharon Ní Bheoláin considering Press Council complaint after being ‘papped’

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