Northern Ireland-born director's Paris terror attack programme is up for an Emmy

A Northern Ireland-born director is vying for America’s top television award for his programme on the Paris terror attacks.

James McGrath, 47, from Saul, near Downpatrick, produced US broadcaster CBS’s 48 Hours – Paris Under Attack one-hour special the day after the tragedy in which 130 people were killed by extremists.

It is shortlisted for an honour at this month’s Emmy ceremony in Los Angeles.

Gunmen wearing suicide vests had stormed the Bataclan Theatre during a concert in the French capital last November. It was part of a co-ordinated assault around the city which left the country in a state of emergency and prompted heightened security across Europe.

James said it was often the story which propelled programmes like his into the limelight.

He added: “If we were to win that would be the cherry on the top.”

Normally a weekend director, James took charge of the week night programme because the normal director was in Cleveland preparing for a special presidential debate.

The day after the Paris attacks James oversaw a special show which was anchored from New York. It went through the events chronologically and looked at French society and the place of young, out-of-work Muslim men in France.

It investigated encrypted apps which helped the attackers stay below the radar of the authorities, relayed survivors’ dramatic stories of escaping the chaos and considered whether it was time for a new strategy to fight terror.

The programme is competing for an Emmy, the television industry’s most prestigious honour, with five other broadcasts, one from the New York Times, others from the enduringly popular 60 Minutes from CBS, Al Jazeera and other rival news shows.

The Emmys are one of the main award ceremonies of the year. Game Of Thrones, much of it shot in Northern Ireland, is also in the running for recognition.

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