Taoiseach says TG4 should consider delaying documentary on Creeslough as victims’ families say it’s “too damn early”.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged TG4 to sit down with the Creeslough families before making a decision to air a planned documentary about the tragedy, which is scheduled to air tonight.
I would ask TG4 maybe to sit down with the families concerned, maybe consult them and then make a decision on whether or not they will delay the broadcast of the documentary,” Mr Varadkar told the Dail.
“As head of government, I hesitate to tell a broadcaster what to broadcast and what not to broadcast. I don’t want to enter this room,” he said, replying to Donegal Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty.
“But I hear what the families are saying and I think we all feel their pain and would at least ask that TG4 sit down with their representatives and discuss the matter and listen to their case and try to understand it.”
His comments came after a father who lost his teenage daughter in the Creeslough blast said his wife and children were unwilling to watch a documentary due to air on TG4 tonight.
Ten people were killed in the explosion at the Applegreen petrol station in the village of Donegal on October 7 last year.
The documentation, Iniúchadh TG4 – A Craoslachwill show how local people came together to help rescue those trapped before emergency services reached the area.
Hugh Harper’s 14-year-old daughter Leona died in a tragedy and he has joined the chorus of bereaved families asking the Irish-language broadcaster to postpone the program to a later date.
“It’s the timing and lack of communication from TG4. That’s our problem,” he said.
Speaking of RTÉ live lineMr Harper said he had written to TG4 asking that all bereaved and the Garda Superintendent overseeing the Creeslough investigation be contacted, but he had received no reply.
“We’re not looking for this not to air, we’re not looking for it to be put on the shelf and gather dust. If we’d been contacted during production and someone said, ‘This will be it, here’s some footage, check it out,’ maybe we wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation,” he said.
“It feels like we’re passengers on a bus, in the back seat, you’re out of sight, out of mind, and people just do whatever they want without your consent. We don’t want to give consent, we just want to be included and recognized.
“I don’t know how to put it, it’s just too soon. My kids are not ready to see some of your pictures. My oldest boy and my wife were among the first to the scene… What they saw and they don’t want to talk to me about it, they don’t want me to know,” he added.
Cillian Flanagan spoke up live line yesterday on behalf of his sister Áine, who lost her partner Robert Garwe and their five-year-old daughter Shauna in the tragedy.
Mr Flanagan said Áine was “devastated” by what she could see in the documentary, which covers the “worst chapter” of her life.
“They interviewed a number of people who were first on the scene who are without a doubt heroes and no one questions that, these people are amazing,” he said.
“But what we have now is a situation tomorrow night where Áine and others are asked to watch an hour-long documentary revisiting the worst chapter of their existence and seeing things for the first time, hearing things for the first time and not it is acceptable.
“Last Tuesday as soon as we found out about this we sent emails to TG4 and have since been looking for information as to what was in it.
“Áine has not slept a wink since last Tuesday, she is devastated by what she will see here tomorrow night.
“There was no consultation whatsoever with the families, no advance notice.”
Donegal Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the issue left many people directly linked to the tragedy “deeply distraught” when they suddenly found out about the planned broadcast.
“They beg them not to air this documentary. They believe it is too raw and the Garda investigation is ongoing.”
Mr Doherty said TG4 provides an excellent service for documentaries “and nobody questions that professionalism.”
The families and the tragedy were expected to be treated with sensitivity, and the story of these heroes who were the first responders needed to be told, he said.
“But the families are asking – and indeed begging – that this be postponed until the Garda investigation is complete.”
Mr Varadkar said: “I would like to send my condolences once again to the people of Creeslough, who I know are still grieving and are still very, very raw at this tragedy.”
He then suggested that TG4 sit down with affected families and give them advice – although there are only hours left before the scheduled broadcast.
In a statement to Independent.ieA spokesman for TG4 said the documentary shows “the utmost respect for those who have lost their lives”.
The spokesman said the program does not report on the victims other than what was “publicly reported immediately after the tragedy.”
“The focus of the documentary Iniúchadh TG4 – A Craoslach is intended to shed a light on the people in the area who helped with the rescue at the scene of the blast,” the spokesman said.
“It includes interviews with some of those who risked their own lives while keeping others safe.
“They speak compassionately and sensitively about the role they played in helping others in the face of great adversity.
“The contributors wanted to express their gratitude for how an ordinary community came together at a time of great difficulty to try to help their friends and neighbors.
“Part of the production team that made Clean Slate TV is the highly respected former BBC journalist Kevin Magee.”
Iniúchadh TG4 – A Craoslach airs tonight at 9:30 p.m.
https://www.independent.ie/news/taoiseach-says-tg4-should-consider-postponing-creeslough-documentary-as-victims-families-slam-it-as-too-damn-early-42333470.html Taoiseach says TG4 should consider delaying documentary on Creeslough as victims’ families say it’s “too damn early”.