Let Kate Have The Final Word

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By Tom And Sally Ann Fitzgerald

Our daughter, 25 year-old Kate Fitzgerald, had the last conversation of her life just before 7pm on August 22, 2011.

She spoke to Peter Murtagh, then Opinion Editor of the Irish Times. Peter promised that her article on depression, suicide and workplace attitudes to mental health would be published in the Irish Times.

Only hours later, Kate took her own life, fully believing that her last message to the world was in safe hands. Sadly, she was wrong.

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Kate was a great fan of the Irish Times. She was very proud that the Irish Times had published three of her articles. Her last published article was to be anonymous, at least for a while. To Kate, the Irish Times was the pinnacle of Irish journalism.
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True to his word, Peter Murtagh published Kate’s last words on September 9, not realising that Kate was dead.

When we spoke to Peter on September 10/11, he was deeply moved by the story of Kate and wrote an excellent article that was published in the Irish Times on Saturday November 26.

The story shook the nation, becoming the most read story on Irish Times online for an unprecedented three days in a row.

On Monday, it was picked up by this website and within two days, became the #1 story on both Facebook and Twitter. This website had connected the dots and identified Kate’s employer.

The Irish Times, Kate’s iconic newspaper, ran for the hills. First, they butchered the article by removing key parts.  Next, they blacked out the whole article, including the accompanying suicide hotline numbers.

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As a final indignity Irish Times editor, Kevin O’Sullivan published an apology for publishing Kate’s last words, saying that “significant assertions within the original piece were not factual”. We made it known that we stand behind her last words.
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Sally and I met with Kevin O’Sullivan, editor, and Denis Staunton, deputy editor on Tuesday, December 13 at the Irish Times office in Dublin.  Peter Murtaugh observed for part of the meeting. We demanded to know what elements of Kate’s article were “not factual”.  The editor apologised for any distress he might have caused us.

Despite repeated requests, he could not identify a single statement from the article that was “not factual”.  He said they cut the article for “legal reasons”.

We asked for a retraction for calling Kate a liar and gave them two days to do so.  Both editors stated that saying Kate’s words were “not factual” was not equivalent to calling her a liar.

Like many readers, we fail to see that distinction. Two days later, we received a call from Kevin O’Sullivan, again apologizing for any offence caused, but declining to give us either a retraction or an apology, for “legal reasons”.

Mr. O’Sullivan also presumptuously stated that Irish Times readers had no difficulty with his retraction.

On one level, Sally and I understand this. Sally is a voice teacher in Bantry who runs concerts for charity, and I run a small technical writing and Irish language services company in rural West Cork.

We do not advise Ireland’s Taoiseach and the Fine Gael party. We do not chair Ireland’s national broadcasting authority. We do not offer PR advice to the princes of the Catholic Church. We do not have daily access to talk shows and newspapers. In short, we are not influential.

When the Irish Times found itself between a rock and a hard place, it chose to go against us and our dead daughter.

We spoke to Kate almost every day for the last weeks of her life.  What she told us in those conversations supports her final article.

We are happy that her final words have touched so many lives and promoted an awareness of mental health. We have heard from many people how it changed their lives, and several people were inspired to seek help for themselves because of it.

We are deeply hurt by the insensitivity of the Irish Times and its inability to grasp how its position has compounded our grief, and attempted to stilt the national debate on depression and suicide.

We are saddened that the Irish “paper of record” has chosen to delete Kate’s last words from the public record. We consider it a tragedy that the Irish Times has let down one its greatest fans, an aspiring young writer, and erased her final message to the world.
We ask that the Irish people, and especially, the readers of the Irish Times, make their feelings known on this matter.

We have lost Kate forever, please help us ensure that her final message lives on.

Tom and Sally Ann Fitzgerald December 16, 2011

 

(Pic:TV3)

241 thoughts on “Let Kate Have The Final Word

        1. Jenny

          They “deeply regret any hurt” but yet they stil l won’t apologise. Disgusting. My admiration of Tom and Sally on this and many other brave acts since Kate’s passing know no bounds.

      1. Colm Scott-Baird

        Begs the question, What else has been retracted, or blacked out? Just how much do you edit before you print? is this Propaganda Eire perhaps?

    1. joanne tangney

      after reading this i will no longer buy that paper…how could ye be so cruel…this was a girl looking for help and left her down in a big way…ye should be ashamed of yourselves….ye are an absolute disgrace…

        1. Bring the Thorazine

          That’s very disingenuous Darragh. Would Boards.ie allow someone to anonymously allege, without any proof, that an organization, enterprise or individual behaved illegally and therefore damage their reputation and good name? Boards.ie’s terms of service indicate that would not be the case.

  1. R

    There are no words for what you’ve both been through, on top of your already great loss. Your bravery and dignity in the face of some, to put it mildly, perplexingly insensitive behaviour is to be commended. The very best to you both.

  2. Stephanie

    Used to consider the Irish Times the only paper worth buying, won’t be buying it again. So disappointed with them for throwing away such a valuable article and such a powerful legacy out of pure cowardice. Beautiful piece, wonderful family. You should very proud. Well done to Broadsheet for doing what is right and not what is easy.

  3. Funk

    Clear, honest, brave and stoic. I can’t imagine how hurt they feel by all this. A real moral blot on a publication that is meant to represent modern Ireland.

  4. ravenna

    Tom and Sally, please know that your candor, bravery and love for Kate have touched me personally and helped me as I deal with my own depression. Bless your strength and steadfastness. Kate’s message does live on.

    Thank you, Broadsheet.

  5. Paul

    My thoughts and prayers are with both Tom and Sally Ann at this time. I’m in awe of your honesty, bravery and dignity as others have already mentioned.

    ps. Well done Broadsheet.

  6. Ann Onymous

    Thank you for being so brave as to share this piece. The Irish Times will not cross my doorstep again.

      1. Rachel Earley

        You are being glib. Kate’s original article, plus the massive response to it and the efforts to spread the word about her story by both Broadsheet and her parents means that the battle against depression and the stigmas attached to it can be talked about and help increase awareness of something that effects so many people. That is her legacy.

  7. Chucks

    “Mr. O’Sullivan also presumptuously stated that Irish Times readers had no difficulty with his retraction.”

    I emailed the Irish Times on foot of the retraction asking them to clarify what was not factual and how they had determined that. I think such an email would clearly indicate that I had a difficulty with his retraction.

    Kevin O’Sullivan is a liar.

    1. Sheila

      I emailed them as well. I hope lots of other people did too and lots of other people will continue emailing them

    2. Steve

      I get it delivered daily. I’ve mailed them also and I’ll be cancelling my delivery if they don’t retract.

      1. Steve

        I had copied Peter Murtagh on my mail and he replied to me very positively. Nothing from the editor of course. Tonight article on the website means nothing – no apology or retraction in it.

    3. AP

      I emailed them as well. Needless to say I didn’t get a response. Hundreds of people registered their displeasure with this stance from the IT as well via the medium of their FB page.

      Kevin O’Sullivan is either a fool or a liar, or probably both.

    4. The End

      I have emailed IT also. A week ago, I have emailed my TD, asking how the Chairman of the RTE Authourity can also hold a postion for a PR Firm, which creates a conflict of interest. I have had no response. Perhaps, a few more emails to a few more TDs might get the issue moving.

      1. tdemailer

        I emailed alex white, who said he has written to Pat Rabbitte (minister
        for broadcasting) to ask about it. Still waiting for a second reply; might be worth asking mr white, he might really do something about it then.

  8. Philomena Fitzpatrick

    Tom & Sally are both so brave and have more influence that they realise. As tiring as it must be, they have kept the topic of depression and the stigma surrounding it in the public eye. Kate would be proud of what they are doing.

    I am deeply distressed by what The Irish Times have done to Kate’s final words and I no longer see the paper in the same light. Kate always had copies in our apartment when we were in college but it won’t be seen in my house again. An apology is not too much to ask and I hope they get one.

    And a big thank you to Broadsheet.ie for standing by Kate’s article when others were quaking in their boots.

  9. John Gallen

    I’m speechless and saddened. I am witness to depression in my own family and I am proud for Tom and Sally Ann and the stance they have taken and I am upset to say the least by The Irish Times handling of this matter. All my deepest sympathy and condolences to the Fitzgerald family. Kate will be remembered by many for sure.

  10. peetur

    Even though I read this website a lot, I couldn’t quite grasp the full picture of what went on, Now I do.
    Well done Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald. And Broadsheet.ie.
    What is it that we do to make our feelings be known?

  11. Julie Tiernan

    Thank you for this Sally and Tom, it takes great strength and character to write in such a practical, well-balanced and non-emotional manner when you have just lost you daughter. The issue of mental health is not going away but continues to devastate families all over the country, I commend you bravery in bring this to light, you daughter’s words have not been lost indeed they have been consolidated by your actions. Thank you.
    Personally I have bought the Times almost everyday for 15 years. I will never buy this paper again.

  12. Paul Moloney

    Kevin O’Sullivan has barely warmed the arse of his chair in the job (6 months) and has already made a mockery of the newspaper with this decision. Time to do the decent thing, resign, and get someone willing to stand up to vested interests.

    P.

    1. bisted

      Well said. I’m so disillusioned with the Irish Times. I cannot believe that journalists like Fintan O’Toole don’t recognise how this sullies the reputation of their paper. Anyone can make a mistake or a bad judgement call but Kevin O’Sullivan’s position is surely untenable.

      1. Bumps

        The fact that all of journalists there seem to have put taking the Irish Times shillings ahead of any sort of journalistic integrity is a great disappointment.

      2. Hanora Miotti

        Agreed that K. O’ Sullivan’s position is untenable.
        The big question is…would whoever replaces him be as easy to influence, and dare I say it, control?
        The puppet- masters need to be held to account, not the puppets.
        Have read the IT nearly daily since I turned 16, but never again.

    2. David Roe

      He should go. Well, he should explain exactly why they took this decision, or else go.
      I didn’t buy the IT today, but I’m not sure how I can boycott the invisible tentacles of The Communications Clinic. Stop listening to all media?

  13. Fill3rup

    Just goes how low the PR crowd will go to protect themseleves,although dancing on someones grave is a new low even for those Oxygen thieves…

  14. PuntPrinter

    Wonderfully written by Kates Parents. Shameful by the IT to capitulate morally the way they have.

  15. timbermerchant

    Well done Broadsheet, and well done Tom and Sally Ann. You have honoured your daughters memory.

    Irish Times and all who sink in it, bow your head. As for the others, and they know who they are, you disgust me.

  16. I really should be working

    Mr & Mrs Fitzgerald, you response is as inspirational and re assuring as your daughters original article. Her words are helping me deal with my own issues with the support of other.
    Like your daughter you have shown the people of Ireland how elements of the Media and political system are willing to ignore the issues that effect the people they are supposed to represent for the benefit of their piers and economic vested interests.

    Bravo to Broadsheet for sticking with this.

  17. ZipAhDeeDooDah

    To Tom and Sally Ann; I salute your bravery in writing these words and your decision to not let sleeping dogs lie. May you both find some solace in the support you’re getting, and closure on what you’ve been put through.

    To Broadsheet; I salute your tenacity and continued dogged determination to stand up for what you (and thousands of others) believe is right. You have shown true journalistic integrity.

    To The Irish Times; To say that you’re a collective disgrace, tarnishes the word ‘disgrace’ too much. It’s become quite clear who pulls your strings, and I only hope that if heads are to be put on stakes, your suffering is not as painful as that which you have inflicted upon others.

    To The Communications Clinic; I have no words for you…

    1. Lorna Jennings

      You articulated exactly how I feel about this far better than I could have at the current moment.

  18. Palimpsest

    “Not factual” is not equivalent to calling her a liar. She could have offered an opinion that might libel someone else. Can’t remember exactly what was libellous in the original article but papers have to be ultra cautious. Consider how much a media-savvy PR company could squeeze out of a newspaper if they brought them to court? It’s surprising it was published with such references originally, but thankfully it was. Her story got out there and was read by a lot of people, which is the important thing.

  19. Kieran D

    Well done Broadsheet. This story has touched a nation, and you need to be congratulated for this work.

    One can only imagine the additional anguish caused to Kate’s parents by the actions of the IT. Echoing the sentiment of everyone who read this article, I commend Kate’s parents for their bravery in standing up for their beliefs, and offer my condolences on the death of their daughter.

    Broadsheet, without you, along with Kate’s parent’s bravery, determination and honour this story would, in all likelihood, have been successfully quashed by the “Legal Reasons” that forced the retraction by the IT.

    Please let us know if there is a way to contribute to this publication, seems to be the only journalistic outlet that is worth paying for anymore.

  20. Imisaninja

    My heart goes out to you and to Kate. Were she still with us I would thank her for raising the issues of mental health and it’s treatment in the workplace. She has given rise to much needed discussion. You do her and us proud with this piece. Thank you.

  21. Aoife Brown

    To say that what Kate wrote was “not factual” is an insult to a very brave woman.
    It’s a real shame that such a newspaper is too afraid to stand by what it has published. Kate’s article was well written, and an inspiration for a lot of people (myself included) who suffer from depression!

  22. Claire K

    It is such a shame that the parents had to deal with this nonsense on top of the tragic loss of their beautiful and courageous daughter. Kate has shone a light on a taboo subject and I’m sure her words resonate with so many and will also encourage many others to seek help. THAT is how her memory will live on and hopefully give comfort to her mother and father. Her death will not be in vain.

  23. Máirtín Ó'Droichid

    In a truly remarkable and admirable way, still in the depths of their deep loss, Kate’s parents fight for her right to the truth. This website continues to broadcast the truth and long may it do so.

    Either through ignorance, omission or design Kate’s employers appear to me to be defending the indefensible. They are not, unfortunately unique.

    Mental illness is a condition like any other and those who suffer, often in silence , fear or shame, need their rights vindicated. If any employer dealt differently with an employee because of their gender, faith or ability we would rightly condemn them. Why Mental Illness is not regarded in the same shames us all.

    The IT seems to be in ‘mental reservation’ mode like other formerly revered institutions. I will no longer look to this paper for my news as it is now tainted.

    To Tom and Sally Ann I offer my sincere condolences…nothing can lessen your loss but perhaps Kate’s legacy will be the start of change?

  24. Breffo

    This is a copy of the mail that I sent to Kevin O’Sullivan. I urge everyone else to email him also
    Sir,

    I am deeply disturbed and disappointed with how your newspaper has treated the late Kate Fitzgerald RIP. As a long time reader, what I particularly cherished about your paper was its anti establishment leanings and the fact that it appeared to stand up to the many vested interests that have left this country in the sorry mess that we see today. I now belatedly recognise that you are in fact no better than any other media organ and are in fact an integral part of the cosy consensus that you continuously purport to challenge. As Kate Fitzgerald’s parents put it so eloquently in their superb piece on broadsheet.ie, when caught between a rock and a hard place you chose the establishment and defamed a dead young women by stating that her final piece of work was not factual without ever explaining how you came to this conclusion.
    I will never buy a copy of your paper again
    Regards,

    1. well

      Thats not the original, thats the version the irish times edited her employers were much worse than that according to the original article.

      1. Jack

        Good to know, I was confused about what they had edited or if they had put it back up. Thanks, anyone got a copy of the original original article?

  25. Declan

    I will not be buying or reading the Irish Times again! Scandalous the way they have behaved, shame on all those involved.

    My heart goes out to Kate’s amazing parents, thinking of you both at this time of year,

  26. Jennifer

    Absolutely disgusting and irresponsible. I feel it comes down to just not wanting to take responsibility for making a mistake. As an American expat (who also knew Kate), I have seen this happen time and time again in Ireland under other circumstances as well. Placing the blame elsewhere, blaming another for shortcomings instead of being noble. Own up Irish Times and come clean! Unbelievable to put her parents and family through such distress because you can’t admit to wrongdoing. Sickening!

  27. Susie

    I am deeply touched by this article, my thoughts are with Kate’s family and I hope that the Irish Times will live up to their good reputation and do the right thing.

  28. Specific Gravity

    The common purpose of all who work for The Irish Times is:

    “To publish an independent newspaper primarily concerned with serious issues for the benefit of the community throughout the whole of Ireland free from any form of personal or of party political, commercial, religious or other sectional control”.
    d (the Trust) and The Irish Times Limited (the Company).

    This objective distinguishes The Irish Times from other newspapers.

    Taken from their website. I will be contacting the members of the Irish Times Trust asking if they believe management achieved their stated purpose in this case. If not, why have such a purpose, and what then is left to distinguish [sic] them from other newspapers?

  29. Paulie Doohan

    There would have been no need to amend the original story had Peter Murtagh not sought to capitalise on Kate’s death with his post mortem tear-jerker scoop, revealing her identity.

      1. Lucy

        I agree. The point of the original article was that it was anonymous. By identifying her, they identified the employers, which was unfair to them because they couldn’t defend themselves against the accusations of someone who was now dead. Any effort they would make would be seen, as has been seen, as an attack.

        1. Aislinn

          Actually, they could have just apologised, said they didn’t understand or realise how bad it was. That would have been infinitely better.

    1. cross-eyed cow

      If anyone should come out with his hands up over this, it would seem to be Murtagh.

      Fat chance of getting any sort of apology from him though.

  30. Welshie

    I admire Tom and Sally Ann Fitzgerald for standing up for their daughter during such a difficult time. They are facing Christmas without their daughter and they do not need their daughter’s memory tarnished in such a way.
    I hope Kate can soon rest in peace.

  31. Aoife

    Shame on the Irish times. The national paper, you have let yourselves down and the Irish population. Depression and suicide is a big issue here in this country and the stats are there to prove it. I can’t begin to imagine the hurt/sorrow/loss that these parents are going through but one things for sure, they have an amazing daughter who will live on forever in their hearts.

  32. Roger Melly

    Please convey to Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald my deepest sympathies and my most sincere respect.

    Please convey to Mr. Kevin O’Sullivan my deepest loathing and my most acute contempt.

  33. siobhan

    I have only just read about this story& did not read the original article, but have the irish times not contradicted themselves.

    When they publish an article I would assume they seek to make sure it is valid and true. Is it only because Kate died that it has now become “factually untrue”? Is it only when an article gets further coverage that they check their legal position? If Kate were still alive would the Irish Times care about the legality of the article?

    I know we are taught not to believe everything you read. I always believed this applied to the tabloids and I had always believed the IT was different & could be trusted for their news Now I’m not so sure. Its clear that they printed an article which they stood by at the time. What has changed since then?? Are they afraid to publish the truth??

    If they are to apologise to the family, as I believe they should, I hope the family insist on a full publication of the original article as I for one would like to read what have been clearly inspiring words from a courageous lady.

  34. Alan

    Dear Editor,

    I am sure you will receive many letters dealing with many great issues over the coming days and perhaps one of those issues will the large number of Irish families who will be missing a loved one due to emmigration. The loss of so many young people is truely awful, however there is some small hope that many will return again and be able to enjoy the love of their family.

    Sadly for those young people who have taken their own lives they can never return and feel the love of their family this Christmas or any Christmas, the families that will mourn those young people will not be celebrating Christmas as you or me will be, they will be left to deal with the sorrow and awful sense of loss, many will have to put on a brave face for their families and especially those with young Children who will be full of the joys of Santa and all he brings.

    So spare a thought this chritsmas for all those who will never see their children return, one of those children is Kate Fitzgerald and if the loss of Kate wasn’t enough for her family the actions of the Irish Times have compounded that loss. Please find it in your hearts to right this wrong, print the entire article in its original state and apologise for what you have done.

    Regards,

    Alan

  35. James M. Chimney

    May Kate rest in peace and my deepest condolences to Tom and Sally Ann.

    Well done to all at Broadsheet.

  36. ivan

    Dear Mr O’Sullivan

    Re: Kate Fitzgerald

    I have been following the saga of your newspapers behaviour in relation to the tragic death of Kate Fitzgerald and the subsequent cutting (and later the removal and apology for), by your newspaper, of an article which you had previously published, citing ‘legal reasons’.

    On the website http://www.broadsheet.ie an article appears written by the parents of Ms Fitzgerald, stating that “Mr. O’Sullivan…..stated that Irish Times readers had no difficulty with his retraction.”

    I don’t know if you said this or not, as I was not at the meeting. If, however, you did say that Irish Times readers had no difficulty with your retraction, I feel I should set you straight on one small detail.

    I do have a difficulty with it.

    I do have a difficulty with it and I will not be purchasing your newspaper in future. As far as I’m concerned, it is my belief that your newspaper was pressurised by another organisation, and rather than stand by what you’d published, you caved. Now, more than ever, we need journalists and the media to stand up to vested interests, and their spin-merchants and not be fobbed off by muttered threats. If I’m wrong in this, please feel free to set the record straight.

    If you buckled in this instance – and I believe that you did – what’s to stop the next hard-hitting story that one of your staff files, being spiked because of a fear of treading on somebody’s toes?

    You need to take a long hard look at your stance in this matter.

    Yours sincerely,

    IVAN

  37. Stuart

    I suppose that the statements that are labelled “not factual” on legal advice, to mollify The Communications Clinic (the media training company owned by Terry Prone, her husband Tom Savage, and their son, Anton Savage) are the paragraphs deleted from the revised text, largely those in italics on your article “A Breakdown in Communication” http://www.broadsheet.ie/2011/11/28/a-breakdown-in-communications/ which acts more to amplify than censor Kate Fitzgerald’s message

  38. Gina

    Kate’s final brave words took an immense amount of courage to write. To have those words manipulated and edited by another journalist is wrong. It seems that recently certain elements of the media have felt that they are ‘national institutions’ and are therefore above any moral code. Stating ‘legal reasons’ is a very poor excuse and while the IT may feel that they are in unchartered territory and are trying to be careful. We all know now who Kate’s former employers were. Surely the IT could do the decent thing and apologise to her parents? These were Kate’s final thoughts. They deserve to be treated as such.

    Kate’s courage will never be overshadowed by the IT and what’s important is that sites like broadsheet.ie can still get her original message across the way she wanted it. I feel that depression is not spoken about in an open way and the IT are fuelling a culture of ‘sticking our heads in the sand’ …. Hopefully someone with half the courage of Kate will rethink the decision and set things right at the IT.

  39. Rosie

    As someone who has experienced what Kate did with her employers, I am saddened that by the Irish Times actions, they have set us back years on the road to understanding depression and how to deal with it in the workplace. By not standing by their original article, they are endorsing a stigma that is age old. It doesn’t really encourage folk to open a dialogue about an established and prevalent illness. ‘For the Times we live in’? I really don’t think so……

  40. Robert Dully

    + 1…… The Irish Times, absolute weasels. My deepest sympathies to all your family for such a precious loss. The truth will surface…. Hang in there.

  41. Louise

    Thank you so very very much Broadsheet for having the balls to tell the truth about the defamation of a dead young woman by something she so admired. It’s absolutely disgusting. How the Irish Times can expect us to trust them as a source of honest and accurate reporting is beyond me.

  42. Ex Irish Times Reader

    The way that this brave girl’s words – now her legacy – have been traduced by The Irish Times is shameful. The humiliation of such a person after her very death is spineless.
    In her parents’s words I can all see where Kate got her talent and integrity from and if they read this I wish them to know that so many of us are thinking of your family – all of you – at this time.
    More shameful than the facts of this particular episode, however, is the revelation that The Irish Times no longer even apires to editorial integrity. If the Communications Clinic can make the Times dance obediently to their tune on this issue, how can the Irish public believe the paper has any power to resist the Clinic’s lobbying on behalf of their other many and powerful clients? Only an editorial purge will give the Times any chance of redeeming itself in the eyes of the Irish public. Until the Irish Times has a new Editor, I shall not be buying it. I would urge others to make a similar resolution.

  43. Lisa

    It’s desperately sad that Kate will never see the impact her experience has on the way we look at depression. I hope this ignites further discussion and openness regarding mental health; her parents are very, very brave… an absolute inspiration.

  44. John Gallen

    The Irish Times Facebook page has not posted anything since c.15 minutes after Broadsheet posted Tom and Sally Ann’s moving letter here.

    They are paying attention!

  45. Jackie Sullivan

    I only knew Kate by reputation, she was a college friend of my daughter. However, nobody has the right to call her a liar. The Irish Times has lost all our business. Well done to Kate’s family and I can’t imagine your loss.

  46. TalentCoop

    There’s enough lies, pretence and stigma around the issue of depression and suicide without the Irish Times besmirching the reputation of this lovely young woman and distressing her family.

    Such shameful behaviour reflects very badly on the Irish Times, it’s staff and their integrity.

    Depression is an ILLNESS, it needs care, kindness, understanding, patience, support and medical help…..
    just like cancer, anaemia, MS, diabetes or any other illness.

    Suicide is not a selfish act but one where the rational mind only hears, listens and dances to the tune of one voice. A voice which seduces, manipulates, seems real but isn’t.

    It’s NOT of the rational world but Instead a voice which emphasises worthlessness and convinces at such a deep level that even the love of parents, siblings, lovers can be as nought, in acting on its words.

    So beautiful, bright young people such as Kate are lost.

    For any parent to have to defend their child in death is appalling, especially when it’s because of duplicity and manipulation by a leading Newspaper. The Irish Times should not be engaged in ruining a sick young girls reputation to protect the reputation of any commercial organisation.

    Instead it might turn it’s attention to educating about the illness depression and suicide and starting to change the prejudice against it’s sufferers. It’s shameful her final words and death have been manipulated by those who should be so much more aware and who should know so much better.

    Sufferers already have enough pain to deal with, enough shame, pretending all is well, whilst being in a crippling emotional pain, so strong that at times it drags them into a place where they are simply unable to function.

    #depressionhurts, is a twitter initiative to change such damaging and ignorant attitudes. We’re launching a social media programme on Dec 20th, designed to change attitudes towards depression and remove the stigma surrounding it and suicide.

    Depression an illness, it’s not a life sentence, help is available.

    see @121depression on twitter and help us to help the quarter of the population, stigmatised just for being sick.

  47. Chris

    The Irish times has behaved in a cowardly and shameful way, but the real fault lies with our libel laws, which make free speech almost non-existent. If Kate’s employers had sued, the burden of proof placed on the Irish Times would have been almost impossible. We need to lobby our politicians to ensure that there is freedom of speech in this country. The pendulum has swung too far in favour of censorship.

  48. Vincent O'Connor

    As the son of a suicide I feel that there should be some balance to this debate. Like it or not the Irish Times is the paper of record. If there was a dispute between Kate and her employers it should not be dealt with in public. They are being publically tried and found guilty with no right to reply. Any suicide is more complex than it appears. To blame her employers and subsequently direct blame and anger towards a newspaper is understandable but may well be unjustified. To condemn the paper is in my opinion unfair. Remember that this was her practically her final public act it does not mean a carte blanche should be given as harsh as this may seem.

    1. Brian Mahon

      I take issue with the idea that her employer is being tried publicly without right to reply. That is quite simply untrue. They could have issued a statement detailing what they though was wrong with the piece, while still being sensitive to the nature of the tragedy at hand. Instead they got the piece edited. Then the piece disappeared altogether. She clearly wasn’t given carte blanche as shown by what the Irish Times did with her piece. The CC have CHOSEN NOT to make a statement. The only person who does not have a right of reply here is Kate. Her parents have done it for her.

      The Irish Times and the Communication Clinic have plenty of avenues with which to express their opinion on the veracity of her piece. Kate’s parents ultimately had only one. Broadsheet.

      While I agree with you that suicide is complex and we may never know exactly what went on in Kate’s mind, workplace or the machinations afterwards in the Irish Times I think we can safely say that both the CC and the IT have not acted in a reputable way.

      While I’m here I want to say that this is a most moving piece written by Kate’s parents and I applaud them for the brave position they have taken.

      Also, and almost as an after thought: +1 Broadsheet.

  49. claire

    May i just ask this question how can the irish times justify this decision, this is a family who in there deepest sadness are fighting for her last words. . . For god sake if they can we must too. Shame on you Irish times and shame on your so called reasons for not standing by Kates article. We the public will stand by her memory and stand by her family by taking a stand against how her memory has been ripped down. Where are your hearts. . . .

  50. Procrastinator

    I can’t thank you enough for drawing so much attention to this story broadsheet. I’ve been directly affected by this terrible issue and if your attention to it will in any way help others to get the help they, and I myself, needed I am eternally indebted to you for that.

  51. Biffolander

    Bravo Broadsheet…Tom & Sally-Ann – many thanks for having the strength & courage to put pen to paper.
    Irish Times -you ought to be ashamed of yourselves…

  52. Xiao Liu

    Nicely done. I wish Kate’s family every consolation and relief from their loss. I also hope the Irish reading public do not forget what we’ve learned from this. It has been edifying to learn just how nepotistic the channels of influence are in Ireland, and how cynical their motives.

  53. chesty cwesty

    I will NEVER purchase the Irish times again. My sincere thanks to Kate’s parents. Honesty, integrity and bravery are in short supply in society. Shame on the irish times for their betrayal of the truth. Well done broadsheet.

  54. Enda

    Dear Mr and Mrs Fitzgerald,

    Congratulations on, and thank you for your bravery. The country could do with more people like Tom and Sally Fitzgerald.

    Best,
    Enda

  55. Mark

    I dont think that Vincent O’Connors defence of the Irish Times stands up at all. It was not about a dispute with Kates employers, she just pointed to their attitude. Despite all their PR expertise they hide behind the famous ‘we will sue’ as a means of manipulating the truth. Fine, powerful people indeed to be in charge of PR and Broadcasting, paid from the public purse.

  56. Frilly Keane

    Dear Kate
    No matter what you read here, or what happens next, your death will always be a waste.
    You clearly had far more to live for.

    Is Mise
    VEF

  57. taxable

    No-one seems to be dealing with any of the issues here. The central difficulty seems to me to be that Kate said her employers acted “illegally”. The truth of this can’t be tested now because she’s no longer with us. No-one can or should be able to publish material that is untrue. It isn’t good enough to simply believe something is true; it has to be capable of being proven true. And that can’t be done now.

    1. Elizabeth

      You are under the assumption that kate’s claims about her employer cannot be proven. You are forgetting that there may have been other staff at the company who could quite easily corroborate her version of events.

  58. Monty

    This whole episode makes me very, very sad. Every day, I’m hearing about more incidencts of young, bright, talented, beautiful people taking their own lives because they feel there’s no alternative to what they feel in their heads. It’s such a horrible feeling to know that this obviously bright and talented girl felt she had no-one to turn to or no-one to talk to who could make her realise that taking her own life was not the answer. Such a terrible, sorry end.

  59. Peter Fitzpatrick

    The Irish Times will not be purchased by me until they retract and apologise.
    The Irish Times website will not be accessed by me (thus reducing online advertisement revenue) until they retract and apologise.

    Tom and Sally Ann you are in my thoughts.

  60. Melissa Noonan

    Publish the article in Broadsheet where Kates wishes and thoughts, words and Kates memory will be respected and valued. Even though she loved the irish times obviously they havent reciprocated with that respect and love for Kate. As Kates parents ye would be the best people to make a decision on what needs to be done in order to have Kates final words published. My thoughts are with Kate and her family. xx a fellow mental illness sufferer

  61. Darren

    I cant believe the I T would censor an article on such an important issue as suicide. Depression is more common than anyone knows. Hundreds of people die needlessly every year. It has to be highlighted not censored. The importance of people to talk to someone about mental health. Shame on the Irish Times, they should correct this wrong and print the entire story again with an apology to her parents. To them I am sorry for your loss and hope you get justice, you are very brave. Everybody needs to read this story. If they dont I will lose my faith in their stories and will also stop buying it.

  62. Meeto

    Boycott the Irish Times! They’ve acted disgracefully and lost all journalistic credibility they ever had! All credit to Broadsheet.ie for refusing to bow to the bullying and threats of TCC and The IT! Bravo!

  63. gracie rothwell

    Tom and Sally Ann my deepest hope is that Kate is remembered with respect and dignity.
    I will not purchase the IT until an apology is issued to you and yours.

    Also unfollowed on Twitter

  64. Maired

    I doubt if RTE will give the coverage to this statement by Kate Fitzgerald’s parents – Tom Savage’s influence as Chairman of the RTE Authority carries weight, and Terry Prone’s influence over Enda Kenny and Fine Gael will also come into play. What an awful country we live in. Hopefully the social media will not let this affair be hidden from the public at large.

  65. Chris Lee

    It’s defamation, lies, slander of character and betrayal of trust. It’s breach of law, both statute and constitution.

    I realise the burden you have suffered, and I realise it is not your duty to continue to fight any longer. I respect your right to privacy and time to mourn. It is perfectly reasonable for any victim to ignore the below paragraph.

    But in you rests the power to begin to fix this problem. We as readers can boycott, but have no standing to fight them in court. Sue, not for damages nor wealth, but for justice. Break the censorship and the corruption. There are lawyers out there who will represent you. What happened is a breach of article 40 section 6 of our constitution and can not be accepted.

    What happened was an injustice we don’t have to tolerate.

  66. Brian

    My deepest sympathies, thoughts and best wishes for the future to Tom and Sally. I hope someday you find peace.

    Congratulations again to Broadsheet for your courage in the face insidious pressure from the establishment.

    I rarely if ever comment on any website/story regardless of the topic. The behavior of the so called paper of record in this instance is reprehensible and cowardly.

    Brian

  67. Michelle

    Kate was a courageous young woman who was served badly by those around her at her job. Mr. & Mrs. Fitzgerald, my beloved 24 year old daughter died 23 months ago. It must pain you so deeply to know how ill treated Kate was when she was alive and you must be so proud of her conviction and courage in speaking out. I’ve read Kate’s life story and she is a remarkable young woman. You are fighting Kate’s fight for her and she must be so proud of you. I am so terribly sorry that on top of the pain of Kate’s death you must deal with people who continue to hurt your beloved daughter in death. Please know that another mother and father in California are following Kate’s story and trying to get the word out about the shameful Irish Times (journalistic rigor? I think not). I do believe that your fight will be known world-wide…as will Mr. O’Sullivan’s shame. I do hope that this story is key in facilitating a new look at old-fashioned office dysfunction so that the business world there finally enters the 21st century.

  68. Fairyhouse

    So now The Irish Times has started to speak out of both sides of its mouth. Why are we surprised? It has been in decline for years (property porn anyone?) but has reached a new low here. I’m in favour of a boycott – of both newspaper AND website – until they restore Kate Fitzgerald’s article and apologise to her family.

    Congratulations to Broadsheet and sincere condolences to the Fitzgeralds. May you find the courage to get over the loss of your lovely daughter.

  69. Fair Play

    A SYMPATHETIC TD could read the entire original article and this commentary onto the record of Dail Eireann in some future debate on suicide.

  70. john

    wow, what an incredibly courageous family. my family lives with the challenge of depression and its more accute sister illnesses: bipolar, manic depression and schizophrenia…. it is a tough and lonely road, not only for the sufferer but the friends and family of the patient. an illness that Ireland has been shoving under the carpet for far too long. the fact that the IT has chosen to take this course of action disgusts me. i have always proudly spoken of the excellent standard of journalism and editorial in the IT and now i feel extremely let down. retract, apologize publicly and republish all the content or i will join the clearly massive withdrawal of support for the institution that is the IT.

    thank you broadsheet for highlighting this and to Mr and Mrs Fitzgerald, I am so sorry for your loss, what you are going through must surely be the closest thing to living hell. daily, i live with the fear the day that i will be experiencing the same harrowing feelings.

    just know that there are so many out there willing you on.

    J.

  71. Nikki Jordan

    Having dealt with a partner attempting suicide, and thankfully not being successful, I can understand all sides of the box…. I hope you and your family learn in time to get over the loss, I wish from your actions that it will be made more aware of ….. RIP Kate, so sorry you decided to leave so soon, and my thoughts are with your ma, da and family xx

  72. h

    The behaviour of the Irish times is obscene. Add me to the boycott list. Even my grandmother who only gets the times on a Saturday has sworn off ever buying it again.
    Terry Crone..another example of how screwed up our country REALLY is. We should campaign for that organisation’s PR contracts to be terminated, particularly the govt. ones.

    1. Hamster

      My dad, 62, life-time reader of the IT had the FT in the back of the car today. I’m proud of him! Maybe there’s change in the wind at last in this godforsaken country where a no-hoper like Anton Savage can dictate what the press allows us to read.

  73. SDaedalus

    Beautiful article.

    In the face of the truly appalling conduct of the Irish Times, the courage of Tom and Sally Fitzgerald – and of Broadsheet – is really admirable.

    Irish Times columnists and media pundits in other publications notoriously silent on this issue should hang their heads in shame.

    As for Kevin O’Sullivan, there has to be some calling to account here.

  74. Marie

    I was touched by what Kate wrote. It helped me deal with something I was going through.
    I can’t believe how cowardly the Irish Times are being. I am a Journalist but it took many years of trying in Dublin to get here. As an aspiring writer, going nowhere, I always looked up to the The Irish Times as the pinnacle of Irish Journalism. But now I am reconsidering. This paper should be ashamed for trying to sweep something so serious under the carpet, how can they ignore this issue that affects so many of us. Well done broadsheet.

  75. Bring the Thorazine

    The Irish Times did not make a liar out of Kate Fitzgerald. Her parents have chosen to interpret events that way. She made very serious allegations, unproven, about alleged wrong doing by an organization. Those were unproven and wide open to accusations that those allegations that were defamatory and deeply damaging to that organization.

    This whole episode is an insight into rampant narcissism, blame culture, and conditioning.

    The Irish Times were right to remove those allegations.

    I note that if this is thje end of the affair, then the homespun legal advice about suing the Irish Times for damage to a writers reputation has ended up where it belongs – in the trash can.

    Move on and do something positive. How many people have died at their own hands since this story was published? And your comment on that?

    1. Elizabeth

      Kate’s claims against the communications clinic were tame compared to the allegations made by karagh fox, another young female employee at the company at a employment appeals tribunal hearing just weeks before Kate’s death.
      Karagh’s claims of bullying and intimidation were never challenged by cc because they settled the case instead of risking further embarrassment. If you think that karagh and Kate are the only employees who had serious problems at what is a very small business you are as ignorant as you are offensive. The spinning has to stop. This story has just begun. You name yourself ‘Bring The Thorazine’. Thorazine is a psychiatric drug. Classy touch.

    2. Maired

      What a silly post.

      If you read the original anonymous article you would see that her employer was instanced as an ememplar of a lack of understanding by employers in general. She did say ‘I do not blame my employer’.

      Hopefully the social media will keep this story of malign influence on our mainstream media channels at the forefront of the minds of the general public, which is not in any way narcissistic – just decent.

    3. Susan Lanigan

      Forget it, “Bring the Thorazine”. I am sure you consider yourself a balanced, respectable member of society and would like to write us all off as crazy dirty linen floating around the internet.

      It’s over for people like you. You are p***ing in the wind and as Nietzsche noted, it’s blowing in your direction. There are more of us now than there are of you. Your hold over us is breaking and there is nothing – NOTHING – you can do about it. You can’t hurt her and you will NOT hurt us. Not any more. We have had ENOUGH, do you hear? Are you completely deaf or are you just incredibly stupid?

      It’s only a tragedy that a life – a vibrant, meaningful life – was lost in the process. And that I end up losing my temper on a thread that is about commemorating that life.

      Christ, I’m so angry I think I’d better step back for a while.

  76. Flann

    This is an important story that has scarcely been touched by mainstream media for obvious reasons. It shows how the wheels are oiled behind the scenes, how corporate interests come first and to hell with ordinary people who are expected to pay their taxes (buy their propaganda) and shut up.

    Tom and Sally Ann Fitzgerald have more influence than they might imagine. We all do. We can vote with our cash (and our time) for starters and refuse to buy the Irish Times or access its website. And spread the word to family and friends.

    The Irish Times, “we look at life, you live it”. Yes, indeedy. Sock puppets. And don’t get me started on their rubbish motoring supplement.

  77. Ciara

    This is a really important public interest issue.

    A PR company with strong connections in high places has set out to stifle public debate on a very important topic. Without a free press we do not have a democracy.

    It is very important that everyone with an interest in a free press use all social media outlets available to build on the brave stance taken by Broadstreet.

    Remember that substantiable amounts of taxpayers’ money is going to PR companies.

  78. DeVore

    “Without a free press”…. hahaha we have never HAD a free press.

    Our press is more restricted than China. In China if you stand on a soapbox and criticise the gov, they shoot you.
    In Ireland they shoot the soapbox maker.
    Pretty soon, no one makes soapboxes any more.

    The Times *should* have forced Terry Prone and the Communications Clinic to formally start proceedings and then taken this action, under protest to show how broken the system is.

    Tom.

  79. E

    Firstly, my deepest sympathies to Tom and Sally Ann Fitzgerald, Kates brother, extended family and friends. I have no doubt that although you are glad the issues of suicide and mental health are being discussed, you would give everything you have to have Kate with you. Everything to make this nightmare unimaginable.
    Secondly, like many others I have considered (naively) that the IT was beyond cosy alliances and could raise above self preserving tactics thanks to their journalistic integrity. I was wrong. Kate submitted her original article to the “opinions editor” so how can they choose to print it then edit/butcher/disrespect the same article and reprint it? They got scared and made a choice. It sickens and upsets me that a young lady’s final words were not given the respect they deserved. This mirrors the attitude many have towards people with mental health problems. It’s not surprising then that some may think “what’s the point in talking about it?” and see no way out of where they are. I really hope this changes and families do not have live through the horrific loss of a loved one to suicide.
    Kate Fitzgerald has impacted on many people in death, but I hope her parents can take some comfort in the fact that in life she was obviously a talented, hardworking and beautiful young lady, who achieved so much. May she rest in peace.

  80. Len

    I have e-mailed my local TDs requesting to have Tom Savage removed as chair of the RTE board. Hysteria aside, I really think that there is a clear conflict of interest here and I don’t think he should be in this position, regardless of everything that happened in this story. If anyone else feels the same way you should contact Pat Rabbitte (Minister for Communications…) who has direct responsibility for appointing the chair of RTE. His e-mail is: pat.rabbitte@oireachtas.ie

    I am e-mailing him now and would urge others to do so.

  81. Jockstrap

    Kevin O’Sullivan is a very bad choice of editor for the Irish Times and I have noticed the dumbing down of the paper since he took over.

    He’s not a news man, he’s a political man. And he’ll do what he’s told by those who want us to get used to poor quality journalism so that we forget what journalism was all about in the first place.

    Expect the Irish Times to descent further and further. It might sound trivial but watch how much banner advertising is on the site lately.

    A sure sign it’s not the paper it was and never will be again.

    1. cluster

      The Irish Times was dumbed down a long time ago.

      Read anything in the IT on constuction, engineering, the environment, science or business published in the last ten years and tell me otherwise.

  82. Niamh

    Shoddy shoddy shoddy Irish Times, their handling of all of this is a car wreck. It makes me feel as sick as when the Murphy Report came out. Tom and Sally Ann, thank you for being so courageous, both yourselves and your daughter.

  83. Deirdre

    Got my letter off to Kevin O’Sullivan / letters to the editor.

    Dear Mr O’Sullivan,

    No doubt you are tired getting emails on this subject – oh wait, did you not say your readers had no problem with your retraction? – so I’ll be brief.

    Kindly restore Kate Fitzgerald’s original article (the dogs in the street know she understated the situation at The Communications Clinic and totally let them off the hook) and apologise to her family for portraying her as a crazy bird who coudn’t get her facts straight.

    Just do it.

    Yours sincerely,

  84. Hannah

    Moved to tears by your words. Your daughter was a very brave person and does not deserve for her message to be undermined like this by the Irish Times, shame on them. Their weak behaviour is not going unnoticed, nor is the critical message about mental health in this country. May this debate fire on…..

  85. Paul O Riain

    Interested to see what has developed with regards to Kate’s article and my thoughts are with her family and friends who loved her.

    The Irish Times, well, they haven’t been the paper of record for a while now. I too used to read it a lot, but stopped a longtime ago. Truth be told if we want real facts we have to rely on whistleblowers like Julian Assange and increasingly the online community publications like Broadsheet.

    Fair play.

  86. Jane

    This country is so backward when it comes to treating mental illness. No doubt there are so-called centres of excellence but a friend’s brother who recently committed suicide had never been offered talk therapy during his years in and out of hospital, just drugs. Can this really be possible in 2011?

  87. Godiva

    Can I preface this by saying I have no time for Eoghan Harris (Bertie ass-kisser rewarded with Senate seat) or the Sindo (toxic rag) but I came across something he wrote that is relevant to this discussion. He was writing about his brother Joe being interviewed on Cork’s 96FM after his business went bust and he was feeling suicidal.

    As soon as Joe went off the air, the phones started hopping. Not just about what he had to say. About the way we divide up our social wealth. As I listened I realised how little we hear of the real world on RTE radio.

    Prendeville pulls no punches. There is none of RTE’s radical-chic restraint in condemning abuse of social welfare, none of RTE’s protective pussyfooting around the fat cats of the civil service, no Labour Party ring of steel around the Cardiff class, no pious platitudes about what a wonderful job they are all doing in the public sector.

    With Tom Savage at the helm in RTE and his wife, Terry Prone, potty training Enda Kenny and his ilk, is it any wonder we hear little of the real world on RTE radio?

  88. Sparky

    At a Christmas get-together last night, this story was a hot topic even though there has been little mention of it on newspapers/TV/radio. It’s like living in a parallel universe. Got me thinking, why do some stories blaze on no matter how much some people would like them to go away? As luck would have it, I since found a blog post on the death of Kate Fitzgerald which touched on this.

    How quickly we forget

    http://ourmaninstockholm.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/how-quickly-we-forget/

    Sometimes it’s not just news sense that kills a story. Sometimes there are other reasons that we as journalists decide that there is nothing more to see here.

    But this time, I’m not buying it.

    1. Mairead

      Isn’t it amazing that, while the general public are widely discussing the issue, the main stream media are now staying silent.

      Goes to show the power that some individuals have in Ireland to control and manipulate the media. I have stopped buying the IT or looking at its online version. I have also stopped looking at the online version of the Examiner because of who writes for it.

      I would encourage others to do the same. It is only by hitting these newspapers in their pockets that just maybe that the press will become more responsible.

      1. Christianl

        Plus 1. Could somebody working on any of today’s papers (Sunday) explain why this unbelievable story did not merit a paragraph today? Do they think it does not deserve any consideration at all. I am particularly saddened by the silence of people like matt cooper, justine McCarthy, Vincent Browne.

        1. Weathergirl

          Vincent Browne writes for the Irish Times. He’d lose that gig pretty quickly if he started lashing out at them. Management in newspapers are notoriously vindictive with long memories.

          Journalism in Ireland is a tiny pond. The fishes can’t afford to cross swords with a potential employer so they’ll keep schtum. Simple as.

  89. Collie

    Who knows why this story is being ignored by the newspapers etc. Well we all know really. The main thing is, it well and truly alive wherever people gather. At a lunch earlier today, there was no one around the table who didn’t have an opinion. Terry Prone’s ears must have been burning. Then again her head is buried so far in the sand, they’ve probably fossilised.

  90. YankeeDoodle

    The shocking irony in all this is that an article that claims to be about bullying in the work place was butchered by the Irish Times because they were bullied by the company that threatened to sue them if the Irish Times allowed the article to allege that they bullied anyone.

    1. mickmick

      Kate and her parents will be in my thoughts and prayers for quite some time. May she Rest in Peace.

      TCC will also be in my thoughts for quite some time and, surely, Tom Savage’s role as chairman of the RTE authority is untenable. Below are two sections of RTE board member’s code of conduct, I believe Tom’s position as an employee of TCC breaches both of them. E-mail your local TD and Pat Rabbite, quoting these sections, if you agree

      3.1 Impartiality
      (i)
      Whilst RTÉ respects the rights of individual Board members to participate in personal and public activities outside RTÉ, these activities must be consistent with RTÉ’s obligation of impartiality. Personal and public activities which are likely to compromise RTÉ’s impartiality as a public service broadcaster organisation, or undermine public confidence in the organisation, are inconsistent with a continuing role as a Board member.
      (ii)
      It is incumbent on Board members to ensure that unfair advantage is not taken, and could not reasonably be implied to be taken, of their connection with RTÉ, and to ensure that no undesirable publicity is drawn to RTÉ resulting from their engagement in such outside activities. This is particularly relevant where the individual is involved in high profile, political or controversial activities and has access to sensitive broadcasting areas within RTÉ. Board members involved in such activities must ensure that this does not lead to a situation in which the public confidence in the impartiality of RTÉ is undermined.

  91. Jitterbug

    The Communications Clinic don’t seem to get it that communications have changed. You may bully a newspaper but you can’t silence the tweets.

  92. Mairead

    It really is amazing that one of the major human interest news stories is getting no coverage in the mainstream media – newspapers or radio.

    Joe Duffy, Pat Kenny, George Hook – where are you when your country needs you?

  93. bob

    while its terrible to see another suicide in this country it has to be said that letting someone use the Irish times as sucide note would be very irresponsible and unethical. Not to publish the girls letter is actually the right thing becasue such a thing can only feed into the culture of suicide amongst certain risk groups and can make it seem a more attractive option for them by giving it a certain tragic celebrity type aspect.

    1. david

      Bob may you and anyone you know never be affected by depression because if you are you will be deeply ashamed of how you phrased that comment

  94. melvin

    You’re a f**king idiot!

    The point is that they edited her letter to suit Terry Prone and her demands and by capitulating to a wimp like Prone they called Kate a liar.

    Read the article and stop trying to sound smarter than you are, moron.

  95. Bill Lehane

    I doubt anyone else on this thread will stand up for journalism, so I would just like to add that Irish journalists operate in a very strictly ringfenced environment because of the country’s antiquarian libel laws.

    The fact is that Kate Fitzgerald’s employers could sue and would win a large settlement against the Irish Times simply for printing her opinions as deleted, which would lower the reputation of the company in the eyes of a right-thinking citizen (an approximate quote from the law). I couldn’t say the Irish Times acted bravely, but their original decision was probably based on the sound presumption a legal case would wipe out hundreds of thousands of euro in a single stroke.

    1. Dave, Dublin

      Bill, that’s a fair point to make, but it makes a massive assumption about the original piece. Namely that there was something inherently libelous about it. Without knowing the steps that the Times took behind the scenes, there’s no way of knowing if this is true. It is also a very poor reflection on the standards of Irish newspaper if we’re to assume that every opinion piece is libelous to some third-party.

      The Irish Times explanation of their retraction is faulty and inaccurate. It’s just a pity that they’re now behaving as though the matter is closed when a better explanation is needed.

    2. Mairead

      Bill – I would defend Peter Murtagh as a jounalist – the decision to publish the article was a good one, and his own article was excellent.

      The journalistic standards then dropped at the IT as a result of bullying by TCC ( remember, too, there was bulling of Braodsheet when it initially dealt with the matter).

      The anonymous article would not have been damaging to TCC if they had issued a statment along the lines “we sincerely regret the tragic death of Kate. She was a valued emploee and our sympathies are with her family and friends”.

      That would have been an end to it. Instead the Streisand Effect has now kicked in because of the actions of TCC leading to a PR disater for the IT and TCC.

      I very much doubt that eitheer the anonymous article or Peter Murtagh’s article would have been found to have either adversly or substantially affeted the public’s view of TCC. The IT journalists should have said to the lawyers ‘we are going to publish and be dammed’

    3. Dave, Dublin

      I accept your point about antiquarian libel laws also. Nowadays, the mere mention of the L-word is enough scare most publishers into retraction and apologies, regardless of merit.

  96. Ken Griffin

    Bill, the original decision may have been based on legally sound concerns – I can certainly see the issues myself – but the way that the Irish Times has behaved during this affair has been pretty awful.

    The lack of communication with her family, the badly worded apology and its general arrogance with regard to readers’ concerns.

    The latest episode has seen the Irish Times complain to me about the content of my blog post examining Hugh Linehan’s blog from an academic point of view. I have had to redact parts of the article in the appropriate fashion as a result: http://backfromthepast.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/the-irish-times-and-archival-censorship/

  97. U

    Very sorry for Kate and her family – any such loss must be terrible. Her article was touching and greatly insightful as to the thoughts and feelings of somebody suffering from depression and the reactions to it.

    However I understand that the IT must have been obliged to edit the article. Whilst the piece remained anonymous all was well. Nobody was mentioned, nobody stood in the firing line and nobody or no organisation was likely to suffer.

    Unfortunately Kate took her own life soon after, the dots were drawn together by her family and Peter Murtagh (who I believe to have acted well meaningly) and soon the whole was known, the whos, whats and wheres clarified.

    Without Kate now around to clarify or give evidence to certain parts of the text, such as “Much of what my employer has done and said since my absence has been illegal. And I do not think for a minute that waht my employer did was an isolated case”, the IT must have been plunged in a legal hellhole. The content, as published on their site, left them open to attack from Kate’s former employers.

    And let us consider this – had her company not suffered any previous allegations of bullying of staff, would we still, with the knowledge we now had, have felt them to be in the wrong based on this article? Yes, I believe we would have done so. Without factual evidence and without the one person who can speak as to why she wrote certain items, we would have vilified this company.

    Any firm must object to such an article, one that would inevitably cast them in a poor light, whether they are a small unit with little power or a large organisation with much influence.

    I don’t believe that Kate meant to shame her employer but with the play out of events they were to come under attack.

    I do however feel that the IT managed this whole situation terribly. To redact the article and to state in an Op-Ed piece that “After publication of the piece on Kate’s life some further details of her final months emerged” was certainly not a good move, and one which was certain to cause upset. Such a statement implies, whether seeking to or not, that Kate was not reliable, presumably on grounds of her state of health.

    To say parts of her article were “not factual” is correct – there seems to have been no evidence, and with Kate gone, seemingly no hope of clarification. This does not stop it being a terrible phrasing – “not factual” in minds of most would equate to lies, rather than meaning there was no hard proof for the claims. The IT, for the sake of Kate’s legacy and her family’s feelings, ought to have put more thought into their wording and explanation. To afterwards blank the article entirely was insulting to Kate’s final wish.

    The CC have acted in a stupid way and in a way that leads me to believe they have little understanding of PR! To put pressure on the IT, as it would seem to be the case, was a gross act of ignorance, particularly for those in such a profession.

    Surely the Streisand effect is known to them – to attempt to censor or remove something on the internet will, more than likely, lead to the original material being more highly sought, publicised and, most importantly, read. Added to this those seeking censorship are often held in contempt for their actions.

    The CC would have done better to have issued a statement of condolence to the family.

    Overall I believe this is a messy affair on behalf of TCC and IT. To me it is fully understandable the actions taken by IT but not the methods, which, given the situation, called for much greater sensitivity. The manoeuvres of TCC leave me baffled, as surely they must have suspected such outrage as we are now seeing.

    At the end of all this I hope people will still read Kate’s article – which can be found easily – and the discussion surrounding suicide and work place attitudes to depression grows. It is a beautiful and sad piece, and away from all this ruckus it is a work which must leave a great impression.

  98. Blessed be the children

    It is a shame that this discussion even exists-this woman’s opinion piece should be honored as just that: her opinion.
    No matter her state of mind, no matter the outcome, and I wish it was different; the IT acted in terrible form. I believe that they would better serve the public and the grieving family by beginning an honest dialogue about depression, suicide and the terrible loss of this beautiful and brilliant woman. Perhaps they could better utilize their position of journalism to establish a foundation in Kate’s name, hopefully to educate the public about the causes and treatments of depression. The PR community could spearhead the effort.
    Blessings to the family and to all who suffer from mental illness. May our hearts be full and removed of stigma, fear and unkind words. All life is precious and valuable.

  99. LocalBooks

    A Christmas Concert for Kate

    Presented by Sally Ann Fitzgerald and the West Cork School of Voice

    Recorded at: The Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff. 9-10 December 2011.

    All Proceeds to “Plan Ireland”, Kate’s Favourite Charity

    A Christmas Concert for Kate was performed on 10 December 2011 in honour of Kate Fitzgerald who died on 23 August 2011 at age 25. The concert includes more than fifty performers, all students at Sally Ann Fitzgerald’s West Cork School of Voice. The concert includes several emotional performances by Kate’s mother, soprano Sally Ann Fitzgerald, and one song by her father Tom Fitzgerald. Most of the performers are under 18 and the Frosties group are all under 11 years of age. The singers are all from the area around Bantry, in West Cork, Ireland. Comments from concert attendees include “one of the most emotional experiences of my life” and “this concert touched me on so many levels that it will take me days to process it” ; “it was a musical tribute to Kate’s life”. There is little doubt that this concert includes some stars of the future.

    To see a quick preview of A Christmas Concert for Kate, performed on 10 December 2011 in honour of Kate Fitzgerald please click on the link here http://youtu.be/H4MK454w09A

    DVDs are available for €10 from localbooks.ie

    All Proceeds to Plan Ireland

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