BBC BOSSES have been forced into a humiliating climbdown after labelling a dead IRA terrorist a “veteran” and grovelled for the “upset” it caused.
In coverage of the funeral of Eamon “Peggy” McCourt BBC News described the republican gunman as a “veteran.”
Police are probing possible Covid rule breaches at the gathering in Londonderry on Monday.
But the BBC’s description of the late McCourt as a “veteran” – giving equivalence between criminals and troops – sparked uproar.
Defence chiefs, MPs and former soldiers raged against the corporation, accusing it of besmirching the 1,400 British soldiers who laid down their lives during The Troubles.
Former Defence Minister Lord Lancaster told The Sun the BBC’s choice of words was “bizarre and deeply insulting”.
“It’s an accolade to be called a veteran. A tribute to serving your country. It should never be used to champion terrorism.”
Defence Select Committee boss Tobias Ellwood
He blasted giving “equivalence to terrorists” and “thousands of military veterans who have sacrificed so much to deliver security for our nation.”
And the Chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee said it was “a most dishonourable use of the word” veteran.
Tobias Ellwood, who served in the Royal Green Jackets, added: “It’s an accolade to be called a veteran. A tribute to serving your country.”
“It should never be used to champion terrorism.”
Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne, who has been in the Territorial Army since 1978, said it was “an insult to all veterans, but nothing surprises me about BBC News coverage.”
When approached by The Sun today, the BBC admitted the word should never have been used.
REGRET FOR OFFENCE
A spokesman said: “We used the term ‘IRA veteran’ to describe Eamon McCourt’s long involvement in Irish republicanism.
“We accept that this shorthand formulation could be misinterpreted and it has now been amended for clarity.
“Mr McCourt is now described as an ‘IRA man’ in our online news report. Related social media posts have also been updated.”
They added: “We understand the sensitivities around Troubles’ issues and legacies, including in relation to terminology. Much of this can be contested.
“No offence was intended and we regret any misunderstanding or upset that may have been caused.”