Tom and Sally Fitzgerald, the parents of the late Kate Fitzgerald, say they will meet with the editor of the Irish Times, Kevin O’Sullivan (above), as early as tomorrow to find out why the paper first edited and then redacted an anonymous article by their daughter.
Sally Fitzgerald has said the family are also considering legal action against the paper over copyright issues and the damage caused to Kate’s posthumous reputation “as a writer” by the paper’s actions*.
Kate’s piece, entitled Employers Failing People With Mental Health Issues, detailed her battle with depression and made a number of claims against her employer. It was published anonymously on September 9 two weeks after she took her own life.
An interview on November 26 with her parents revealed that Kate was the author of the article. Kate’s employer was not identified in either article.
Two days later, the paper edited the online edition of Kate’s article removing mention of her own personal experiences when she returned to work after after she spent a period of time at a hospital.
The following Saturday, December 3, the Irish Times issued an apology to The Communications Clinic, where Kate had worked as a consultant, which was granted “without legal representation”
Two days later the online archive edition of Kate’s entire article (including suicide helpline information) was physically blurred and then, later, blacked out.
On the same day Mr O’Sullivan wrote an op-ed piece stating: “After publication of the piece on Kate’s life some further details of her final months emerged. This led to an Irish Times decision to edit the initial piece and to publish a clarification in Saturday’s editions. In my view, this was necessary in the context of fairness and it does not undermine in any way Kate’s life and the story told by her family, including her brother William.”
Sally, who said the Irish Times have “never contacted” the Fitzgerald family about the apology or the editing of Kate’s article, said neither Kate’s family “nor her friends” understand why the paper has acted in the way they have.
She said: “We have no answers. We talked with Kate’s friends at the weekend and they have no idea what’s going on [either].”
Two concerts were held on Friday and Saturday, in honour of Kate.The events, in Glengariff, Co Cork raised €6,000 for Plan Ireland, Kate’s favourite charity.
*Moral rights were introduced throughout the European Union in the Copyright & Related Rights Act, 2000 and they include the ‘integrity right’, the “right to prevent mutilation, distortion or other derogatory alteration of the work”. Moral rights may be waived, but a waiver must be in writing. (Source: Copyright Association of Ireland)