Private Grief



A Book of Condolence in the Dublin Pro Cathedral on Saturday 

Further to the return of the victims of the Berkeley tragedy.

Photo news agency editor Eamonn Farrell writes:

Subject to the request for privacy by family members of the J1 students who died in Berkeley, made through the offices of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan*, Photocall Ireland will not be covering the return of the bodies to Dublin Airport
This was not an easy decision as the story is one of huge public interest and there are timeswhen the public interest must take precedence over the personal grief of bereaved families.The Stardust disaster is a case in point.
However on the basis that there has already been massive media coverage of the Berkeley tragedy, with text and imagery readily available from American media sources, we have decided to abide by the families’ wishes.

Eamonn Farrell,
Photocall Ireland

Alternatively: Remains of Berkeley victim Olivia Burke arrive in Dublin accompanied by family and over 30 friends (Irish Mirror)

*It is essential that the families of the victims of the Berkeley tragedy be given the space they need to grieve. I appeal for their privacy to be fully respected as they make the difficult journey home tomorrow [Monday].” Charlie Flanagan

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

35 thoughts on “Private Grief

  1. Christopher

    Why any media outlet would think that it adds to this story or that anyone would want to see coffins coming out of an aeroplane is a another question.

    1. ZeligIsJaded


      ‘This was not an easy decision as the story is one of huge public interest and there are times when the public interest (ghoulish and morbid fascination) must take precedence over the personal grief of bereaved families.’

      Nonsense in this instance.

  2. Jessica Carroll

    This probably won’t stop the Independent from setting up a real time Live Blog to document the funerals.

  3. Quisling

    This is not of ‘huge public interest’. This is ghoulish fascination with other peoples’ private tragedy, the equivalent of rubbernecking at a car accident. No need to cover it, and no need to get all smug about how noble they are being by staying away.

  4. ahjayzis

    That’s a very big, very brave move from Photocall Ireland. They’ve done Ireland proud in their decision not to shove camera’s in a bunch of grieving parents faces as they bring their children’s remains home, despite it being of high civic important for us all to have a bloody gawk.

    1. medieval knievel

      this was not their decision. the move was forced upon them by a very reasonable request which would have made them look very bad if they’d refused to accomodate it.

      the ‘this was a difficult decision for us’ comment is a strong signal that had they not been asked to stay away, they’d have been there in a heartbeat.

  5. Wayne.F

    There was a pap, standing at the M1 airport roundabout right at the exit waiting for the families, the garda on duty there told him he would be doing his best to stand in the way of any shot he was taking! The photo’s taken from the M50 flyovers were, probably the most discreet and least invasive, and still allowed the story to be covered

  6. ESV

    It is easy, and tempting, to frame this press release in terms of how it might make the company look good…and after all it’s a press release, and this is a commercial company, and therefore to a certain extent it *is* something done with the company’s public image in mind.

    However, I think it’s a necessary intervention in the conversation too. The families asked for privacy, in very clear and well-articulated terms. That request has simply been ignored or even dismissed by other agencies. I think that by making this statement, Photocall have underlined and provided an articulate framing of the hypocrisy of the media in this tragedy. (Even if, ironically, it risks edging towards a touch of hypocrisy on their own part. But that’s business.)

    1. ReproBertie

      So grieving families deserve the same level of public scrutiny as a billionaire doing possibly dodgy deals with the state?

  7. rotide

    I really don’t understand everyone here saying that coffins aren’t public interest and this whole thing isn’t in the public interest when there very clearly and demonstrably is a large public interest in it.

    Not that i’m quibbling with photocalls decision here, they’ve probably done The Right Thing in this case. However claiming that news outlets are somehow doing something extraordinary or surprising beggars belief a bit. Tabloids gonna tabloid, nothing new to see here.

      1. ahjayzis


        Things interesting to the public are not always in the public interest. I got up to some mad sh*t on Friday night – interesting certainly, but NOT in the public interest, so piss off paps.

    1. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

      Public interest is that which is of importance to the well being of the public.
      Covering the arrival of coffins is ghoulish voyeurism.

  8. java

    Do Photocall abide by every family privacy request? I wonder why they are making a point of announcing this decision.

  9. meadowlark

    Glad to see this. There has been so much coverage of this sad story. It is only right that the families get some much needed privacy to grieve.

  10. louislefronde

    Frankly, people should be allowed to grieve in private without paps taking photographs.

  11. martco

    “This was not an easy decision…etc”
    sorry but that’s just a load of pure self-interested bollocks
    yer man want a medal or something??

  12. Lilly

    Glad they took a stance. It has forced the rest of them to cease and desist or risk looking like complete scumbags.

  13. Kolmo

    Well done Photocall on what would be regarded as decency by all but the half-bred, and the basest elements of the Paptard community. .

  14. Eamonn Farrell

    I don’t usually respond to online discussion in relation to our images, etc. However, some aspects of the current discussion on our decision not to cover the return home to Dublin Airport of the bodies of some of the J1 students who died in tragic circumstances in Berkeley are based on incorrect information.

    Photocall Ireland did not issue a statement regarding our decision.

    We sent a private email to the pictures desks of the media organisations who are clients of ours, and who in normal circumstances might expect that we would cover the return of the bodies to Dublin Airport last Sunday. Some of them decided that our decision and explanation had a news value. Some did not. In both cases, that is the decision of the media organasiation; the publication of the statement had nothing whatsoever to do with us. Publicity surrounding our decision on this matter is not something we sought. Our decision was in relation to the return of the bodies to Dublin Airport only. We did cover the funerals of two of the victims this morning and we will be covering the remaining funerals. From a media perspective, this is a serious news story. The Catholic Church Press Office has recognized this by issuing guidelines in relation to media attendance at the events, and we will of course be abiding by these.

    If we stop or are swayed by the understandable grief and emotions of those who are affected by tragic events, we are not doing our job as journalists. And doing your duty is always more difficult when it relates to your own community as opposed to events in Nepal, Syria, or Charleston. I made the original decision only on the basis that the story had already had four days of extensive coverage from Berkeley and I felt it was reasonable to ask that the families’ be allowed privacy on the day the bodies were returned to Ireland. From today it is a legitimate news story again, and it is up to individual news organizations to decide how they wish to report on the funerals.

    Eamonn Farrell,
    Photocall Ireland

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