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Shebeens and slip jigs: Anger at BBC Newsnight's portrayal of Ireland

“Leprechauny” graphics on “simplistic Oirish” report on Irish financial crisis are criticised.

British Chancellor George Osborne is pictured dancing across the screen in front of a
British Chancellor George Osborne is pictured dancing across the screen in front of a "sibin ceoil" in the BBC Newsnight report

A REPORT CARRIED on BBC Two’s flagship late evening news show, Newsnight, about the Irish financial crisis has been criticised for depicting Ireland as a series of cartoonish postcards.

Irish viewers complained on Twitter and other social media last night as the report aired on BBC2.  The report on Chancellor George Osborne’s comments that Britain may provide support to loaning billions of pounds sterling to Ireland was bookended by sequences which appeared to show Ireland in a stereotypical light.

The report featured a cutout of Chancellor Osborne apparently Irish dancing his way across sepia-tinted postcard representations of a bog-and-mountain landscape, over the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin and – at the end of the report – outside a shebeen house.

These images were accompanied by a soundtrack of Irish traditional music and figures concerning the Irish economy were written in clunky Book of Kells-type font on the screen. Celtic swirls of the type seen at the Newgrange megalithic tombs were used as bullet points.

This is the report as it appeared on the BBC last night:

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Irish viewers of Newsnight made serious criticism of the style and tone of the report as they watched it last night:

Shebeens and slip jigs: Anger at BBC Newsnight's portrayal of Ireland
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  • From @anniewestdotcom

  • From @johnmcmahonirl

  • From @HendrikG

  • From @loveandgarbage

  • From @BiddyEarly

  • From @EthanRayne


TheJournal.ie sent a query to the BBC press office today on whether official complaints were made to the station about the style and graphics of last night’s report.

We also asked if BBC Newsnight accepted that these elements might be inappropriate or might stereotype Ireland. The BBC has not yet responded to our queries.

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