Red faces at Blue Peter after Ulster hand symbol gaffe

BOSSES of BBC TV children’s show Blue Peter have apologised over the use of the Red Hand of Ulster symbol.

The controversy emerged two weeks ago in a children’s competition to design new airline livery.

New presenter Zoe Salmon, 24, a former Miss Northern Ireland, suggested the Red Hand would make a good design for an airline’s livery. She caused more controversy a week later by selecting a map of Ireland covered in the Union Jack as one of her favourites. Head of Blue Peter, Anne Gilchrist, issued an apology to David Miller, professor of sociology at Strathclyde University, who was among those who complained about the use of the Red Hand of Ulster, saying it was a sectarian symbol.

Ms Gilchrist wrote: "We can assure you that the symbol was used in good faith and it wasn’t our intention to be provocative or promote sectarianism.

"The reason we chose to use it was because it is the official symbol of the province of Ulster.

"Of Ulster’s nine counties, three are in Eire and six in Northern Ireland, and we were advised that both communities are equally attached to the red hand as representative of their province."

Professor Miller said today: "This symbol has sectarian connotations. It’s used on loyalist murals by paramilitaries and would cause offence to many people."