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Jeremy Paxman Photo by: BBC

Leading BBC anchor says Britain should not have said sorry to Irish over the famine

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Jeremy Paxman Photo by: BBC

A prominent BBC presenter, Jeremy Paxman, has accused former British Prime Minister Tony Blair of "moral vacuousness" for his apology over Britain’s lack of help during the Irish famine.

During an interview with the Radio Times Magazine, the BBC 2 Newsnight host lashed out at Blair over the comments he made in a 1997 statement concerning the Great Hunger.

"You should apologize for things that you have done, that you recognise that perhaps you shouldn't have done or regret," Paxman said.

"But apologising for things that your great, great, great, great-grandfather or grandmother did, seems to me a complete exercise in moral vacuousness."

In 1997, Blair issued a statement to mark the 150 anniversary of the famine.

"The Famine was a defining event in the history of Ireland and of Britain. It has left deep scars.

"That one million people should have died in what was then part of the richest and most powerful nation in the world is something that still causes pain as we reflect on it today.

"Those who governed in London at the time failed their people through standing by while a crop failure turned into a massive human tragedy. We must not forget such a dreadful event."

Michael Blanch, chairman of the Committee for the Commemoration of the Irish Famine Victims told the BBC that Paxman was in “denial”  if he thought the apology was inappropriate.

"If Mr Paxman was making similar comments in certain European countries denying what happened during World War II, he would be incarcerated," he said.

He added: "this is not about individuals. As a state and as a government at the time of the famine, there was wrong and there was neglect. An apology was long overdue."

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