THE BBC issued an on-air apology this morning after representing Northern Ireland with a tricolour flag during a section on the four nations’ quarantine rules.

A graphic on the BBC Breakfast programme showed each nation’s flag, alongside their latest rules for international travel – but the Republic of Ireland’s flag was used to represent Northern Ireland.

The presenters apologised for the error after Iain Paisley got in touch with the BBC director-general.

Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster said the mistake was “very poor” and added similar morning news shows had managed to get their graphics correct.

Meanwhile, Paisley said: “I welcome the swift apology but disgraceful that we have to complain about such a matter to the British Broadcasting Corporation which is partly paid for by license fee payers in Northern Ireland.

“The BBC Breakfast editorial team either didn’t check the graphic before airing or else they don’t even know the UK and its people. Pathetic and insulting on either level. There should be a full investigation about how this was able to happen.

“The BBC is very swift to point the finger at everyone else but do little to justify why my constituents should bother to pay for the public service broadcaster when flagship programmes don’t even know where the country is or what flag it’s under.”

Less than an hour after the mistake was made, presenter Naga Munchetty told viewers: “Now just before we go, we’d like to apologise for a mistake we made earlier in the programme.

“For a graphic sequence, explaining the differing quarantine rules around the nations of the UK, we mistakenly showed the wrong flag for Northern Ireland.”

The wrong flag was used during a graphic demonstrating the latest quarantine rules for passengers arriving in different parts of the UK.

Wales and Scotland now require people arriving from Greece and Portugal to self-isolate for 14 days – but there has been no change to Northern Ireland and England’s rules.