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Irish newspaper apologises to grieving Buncrana widow after journalist poses as well-wisher to get interview

Family members carry the coffins of the tragedy's six victims (Photo:RollingNews.ie)
Family members carry coffins of the tragedy’s six victims (Photo:RollingNews.ie)

THE Irish Mail on Sunday newspaper has apologised after it published sensitive personal details about a woman whose family tragically died in the Buncrana pier tragedy last month.

Louise James, who lost her partner, mother, sister and two young sons in the tragic car accident, spoke to an Irish Mail journalist in private just days after her relatives’ funerals.

The paper then published her comments as an ‘exclusive’ interview, which featured on its front page and four additional pages inside.

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It has been reported that journalist Alison O’Reilly, accompanied by her two children, arrived at James’ home posing as a well-wisher. After gathering personal information the journalist then wrote the story up as an exclusive.

In a statement on behalf of James to the Belfast Telegraph, family priest Fr Paddy O’Kane said that the woman claimed to be a well-wisher visiting from Dublin to offer condolences. However, at no point did she make it clear that she was a journalist.

The priest stated: “The woman came to her home with two young children and pretended she was also a mother and wanted her children to meet her daughter.”

In an apology printed in the Irish Daily Mail yesterday, the paper admitted that James had spoken to their reporter “in a purely private capacity.”

James’ family had previously requested that her privacy be respected following the tragedy.

The statement from the Irish Daily Mail reads:

Last Sunday, we published an article quoting from Louise James, who had lost her partner, mother, sister and two sons in the Buncrana tragedy.

We wish to make it clear that Louise understood that she was speaking to our reporter in a purely private capacity and had not consented to being interviewed.

She did not wish to give interviews to any media outlets.

We are happy to make this clear and to apologise to Louise and her family for the upset caused.

There has been an angry reaction from local Derry residents with the Pure Derry Facebook page calling on people to boycott the paper.

(Photo: Pure Derry)
The Facebook page Pure Derry created their own Irish Mail On Sunday front page in response to the revelations (Photo: Pure Derry)
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