Climber Barney Dobbin's death used to promote travel insurance

By Tommy Bradley
The Nolan Show

  • Published
Barney DobbinImage source, Family handout
Image caption,
Barney Dobbin, from Artlone near Randalstown, died while climbing Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador

The death of a mountain climber from County Antrim was used by insurance firm CompareNI.com to promote the company's travel insurance service.

Barney Dobbin was 25 when he died in an accident in South America in 2018.

Afterwards an article, presented like a news story, entitled - Northern Irish mountain climber dies on Ecuador trip - appeared on CompareNI.com's website.

CompareNI.com has apologised to his family "for any upset" and removed the article from their site.

The article, carried on the company's website, went on to advise readers they should take out specialised insurance cover if they were planning similar trips.

Mr Dobbin's friend Niall Quinn told the BBC's Nolan Show it was disrespectful and had caused hurt to the family.

He said that apologising in a statement and deleting the article was not enough, and the company should make a donation to a charity.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Niall Quinn, left, pictured with Barney, said his friend was one of a kind and the article was "disrespectful to his name"

Mr Quinn said the article was "quite a shock to the friends and family".

"They weren't made aware of it," he said.

"They weren't asked for permission. For them (Compare NI) to post something of that nature to promote insurance is unprofessional and disrespectful.

"Barney was a one of a kind of guy. It's damaging to his legacy that they're using this to promote insurance.

"He was a person. He lived his life to the full. He was adventurous. It's disrespectful to his name that they are using it to promote insurance."

'No connection'

CompareNI was asked by the Nolan Show if it would continue to use stories like this to promote their products in the future. The company did not rule it out.

In a statement, Ian Wilson, managing director of CompareNI, said: "On reflection, we completely understand why the family feels this article was not sensitive to their loss. We have removed it from our website, and we apologise for any upset caused."

Advertising and communications consultant Tim McKane told the BBC it was "just absolutely dreadful".

"That somebody in any company could feel that they could use a real life story that has nothing to do with them to promote their product," he said.

"It's not as if this poor young man has any connection with the company, or brand or product they are promoting."

Mr Dobbin, from Artlone near Randalstown, died while climbing Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador in December 2018.

His mother said she was distraught and too upset to speak publicly.