Labour Senator John Whelan was a contributor on RTÉ’s Late Debate, presented by Cormac O’hEadhra, on November 5.
During the interview, there was this exchange:
John Whelan: “I believe the contract should have been awarded, the record will show, to Bord na Móna. I believe that Bord Gáis, and this is why the Government has gone in, Alan Kelly has gone in and stripped it back, the board has to be reconfigured, reconstituted and…interrupted.”
Cormac O’hEadhra: “Wait now, this is very serious John. What you’re saying this evening, surely, does that not render the validity of the Bill, the Act all null and void?”
Whelan: “No, what I’m saying is this. Bord Gáis through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water and I believe they did so under false pretences and they haven’t delivered.”
On November 14, Anthony Sheridan, of the blog Public Inquiry, noted that Senator Whelan’s relevant remarks were removed from RTÉ’s radio playback service.
Yesterday, the Irish Times reported on RTÉ’s decision to remove the remarks, quoting an RTÉ spokeswoman saying: “The comment on The Late Debate was removed from playback following an internal editorial decision. This can happen on occasion with a live programme.”
It also reported Senator Whelan, a journalist, saying: “I said what I said in the knowledge of the full import of what I was saying and I did not need the privilege of the House to do so… There was no libel and no slander. It was fair comment on a matter in the public interest.”
However, this morning, Mr Sheridan writes:
“I see the Irish Times took up my story surrounding the dramatic revelation by Labour Senator John Wilson that Bord Gais had made their pitch to establish Irish Water under false pretences.”
“Bizarrely, however, the Irish Times took the same line as RTE and, effectively, censored the principal allegation made by Senator Whelan.”
“Here’s the exact charge made by the Senator against Bord Gáis:”
“No, what I’m saying is this. Bord Gáis through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water and I believe they did so under false pretences and they haven’t delivered.”
“Here’s how the Irish Times reported his allegations:”
“No, what I’m saying is this: Bord Gáis through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water . . . and they haven’t delivered.”
“Leaving out the words; ‘under false pretences’ strips the report of any relevance, it effectively kills the story.”
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