Bord Failte blamed fall in visitors on Maze protests
Published 31/12/2011 | 05:00
STATE tourism agency Bord Failte complained to the government about the "very negative publicity" of the Maze hunger strikes.
Blaming the protest in the North's Maze Prison for a fall in visitor numbers to Ireland, the agency asked what Irish embassies around the world were doing to counter the news coverage.
Ambassadors dismissed as "inappropriate" and "callous, not to say frivolous" the suggestion that they should be working to distance the Republic from the unfolding crisis to boost tourism revenues.
In a letter dated May 1981 to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the agency's PR officer James Larkin said: "Bord Failte is very concerned about the losses in tourism which have been caused by damaging publicity in our main markets and if any measures are being considered to increase positive publicity abroad."
Missives were sent to embassies in Ireland's main tourism markets, including Britain, the US, Germany, Italy and France.
David Neligan, assistant secretary in the department, wrote back to Bord Failte, saying while embassies abroad always strived to counter inaccurate media coverage, Ireland's bad publicity was not just down to the hunger strikes.
"The burning of British-owned houses and of the British anglers bus, street disturbances in Dublin and the maiming of a British lecturer in Trinity College Dublin will all have been damaging even when these developments are placed within their context, as it is the concern of all of us that they should be," he said.