Reconstructing apology: David Cameron's Bloody Sunday apology in the press

Andrew McNeill, Evanthia Lyons, Samuel Pehrson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


While there is an acknowledgement in apology research that political apologies are highly mediated, the process of mediation itself has lacked scrutiny. This article suggests that the idea of reconstruction helps to understand how apologies are mediated and evaluated. David Cameron's apology for Bloody Sunday is examined to see how he constructs four aspects of apology: social actors, consequences, categorization, and reasons. The reconstruction of those aspects by British, Unionist, and Nationalist press along with reconstructions made by soldiers in an online forum are considered. Data analysis was informed by thematic analysis and discourse analysis which helped to explore key aspects of reconstruction and how elements of Cameron's apology are altered in subsequent mediated forms of the apology. These mediated reconstructions of the apology allowed their authors to evaluate the apology in different ways. Thus, in this article, it is suggested that the evaluation of the apology by different groups is preceded by a reconstruction of it in accordance with rhetorical goals. This illuminates the process of mediation and helps to understand divergent responses to political apologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-74
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date07 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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