RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy and Irish Independent crime correspondent Paul Williams on The Late Late Show earlier this year
You may recall Irish Independent Crime Correspondent Paul Williams’s appearance on The Late Late Show on February 19 of this year, just a week before the general election on February 26.
Yesterday, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland rejected two complaints made about Mr Williams’s interview with presenter Ryan Tubridy.
In it’s decision, the BAI noted that, although live, the interview had been previously rehearsed and Mr Williams had unexpectedly raised the Special Criminal Court, Sinn Féin and Sinn Féin voters.
In the first instance, the complainant was John Flynn.
The BAI explained:
[Mr Flynn] objects to an interview with the journalist, Mr Paul Williams, who he claims was freely allowed to malign Sinn Féin voters as criminals.
The complainant believes that in the initial reply he received from RTÉ, the Producer relied on the weak intervention of the presenter and on the hazards of live TV to excuse the failure of the broadcaster to distance itself from Mr Williams’ claim.
The complainant maintains that Mr Williams stated that only people/organisations
opposed to the Special Criminal Court were Sinn Féin members of criminal enterprises.
The complainant states that RTÉ chose not to repudiate the remarks both on the night
and later in reply to the complainant. This was especially repugnant during an election campaign.
In response, the executive producer of The Late Late told Mr Flynn:
RTÉ state that this was a wide ranging and lengthy item that told the story of two criminal families and their vast wealth over a number of years.
The broadcaster states that towards the end of the item, which, for legal and editorial reasons, had been strictly rehearsed and planned in advance, Mr Williams unexpectedly started discussing the Special Criminal Court and his support for its ongoing existence.
The broadcaster states that the presenter attempted to cut him off but Mr Williams continued and made the accusation that the complainant and several others have found offensive. The interview continued about the feuding families thereafter.
RTÉ state that while it is worth noting that Mr Williams did not say that anyone who votes for Sinn Féin is a drug dealer or killer, he did say that the only people who support that part of their manifesto are.
This was unplanned, unscripted and the opinion solely of Mr Williams.
In rejecting the complaint, the BAI concluded:
…Mr Williams’ comments about the position of Sinn Féin in respect of the Special Criminal Court and their proposal to abolish it were factually correct.
From a review of the programme, it was evident that the comments made by the guest concerned the response of some segments of the electorate, in particular those engaging in criminal activities, to this aspect of the election manifesto of Sinn Féin.
While the comments could be reasonably seen as an implied criticism of that aspect of the Sinn Féin manifesto, the Committee did not agree that it amounted to a
comment on supporters of this party as a whole, as stated by the complainant.
While audiences would have benefited from a more forthright response from the presenter to the remarks of his guest, it noted that the presenter quickly stated that the proposals of Sinn Féin in respect of the Special Criminal Court were not relevant to the discussion and also noted that the party, had it been in studio, would disagree with Mr Williams’ analysis.
Given the focus of the discussion, the factual nature of some of the comments in respect of the Special Criminal Court, the response of the presenter, and having also had regard to the right to free expression, the Committee was of the view that, on balance, the programme did not infringe the fairness, objectivity or impartiality requirements of the Broadcasting Act 2009 or the BAI Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs in the manner stated by the complainant. Accordingly, the complaint has been rejected.
The second complaint was made by Enda Fanning who claimed Mr Williams’ comments were an attempt to harm Sinn Féin in the then forthcoming General Election. He said Sinn Fein was the only political party referred to by Mr Williams in his comments.
RTÉ sent the same response to Mr Fanning as it did to Mr Flynn.
And, in rejecting Mr Fanning’s complaint, the BAI made the same conclusions in its rejection of Mr Flynn’s complaint.
During the final leaders’ debate, broadcast live on RTÉ television on 23 February, presenter Miriam O’Callaghan wanted to know if Gerry Adams in government would appoint “cronies” to state boards.
She made reference to a number of individuals, including Danny Morrison. When Adams pointed that Danny Morrison is now a “private citizen” she responded that he had been “convicted for kidnapping”.
O’Callaghan – whose brother Jim was elected as a TD for Fianna Fáil just days later – was apparently unaware that the kidnapping for which Morrison was convicted in 1990 (and for which he spent over five years in prison) was overturned in 2008 and he was paid substantial compensation from the British state…
…The second law-suit is in relation to an interview given by the Labour Party’s then TD Joe Costello to Saturday with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio in which he named Sinn Féin’s Nicky Kehoe in relation to unfounded media accusations which claimed ‘sinister and subversive elements’ are controlling the party.
Dress code for the The 1916 Lost Leaders March on Good Friday in Dublin.
The march will include the Irish Volunteer Cavalry, re-enactors including the Cabra Historical Society, American Diaspora, 1916 relatives, executed leaders Guard of Honour, Women of the Revolution and marching bands. Gerry Adams will be the main speaker….
An update on the forced West-Belfastisation of Dublin 7. This recruiting drive (above) was brought to you by the good people in Republican Cabra (brought to you by SF [brought to you by you-know-who] )
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams with the party’s new TDs at Leinster House this morning
Further to the yesterday’s post about media bias during General Election 2016.
Having read your article on #VinB with Mick Clifford on media coverage through #GE16 here is a discussion from The Pat Kenny Show last Friday morning on Newstalk. It annoyed me so much I transcribed it (as below) and lodged a complaint about it.
This was a five-minute discussion with participants which included Pat Kenny, outgoing Independent Senator Averil Power, former political editor of the Sunday Independent and Renua communications director John Drennan and political commentator, former advisor to Bertie Ahern, Paddy Duffy.”
Grab a tay.
Pat Kenny: “Just, a by the way, in terms of Sinn Féin, because they are largely irrelevant to this discussion because they are not going to go into coalition with Fianna Fáil or with Fine Gael. What do you think did for their prospects, I mean they’ve improved their number of seats but at 13 whatever it was, point eight per cent was it, or something certainly less than 14%. It was not up to their expectations. I mean was it? They had no ambition really on the USC which would put money back in people’s pockets or was it the Special Criminal Court or?”
Averil Power: “I think it was two words Gerry Adams… was their leader.”
Paddy Duffy: “Yeah, I think it was the faulty arithmetic of Gerry Adams (A), and (B), no middle sector worker or higher is ever going to let Sinn Féin get near their pay packet, okay. Because they don’t believe in that crazy economics that they have, okay, and then all the other attendant things, Mairia Cahill and all of that sort of stuff and the sort of, the, the stronghold that the Central Committee has on the party as a whole, particularly the women who were quite obviously ill at ease during many of those days, and their Deputy Leader in particular”
Pat Kenny: “Micheál Martin has always been pushing the line that Sinn Féin, Dublin, is controlled by Belfast, is that…”
Duffy: “Well, obviously I don’t personally know, so, this is what people think…”
John Drennan: “It certainly was, it was certainly a strong image was were you letting the Army Council into the cabinet rooms of the State via the back door, if you voted for Sinn Féin? I think another thing to possibly bear in mind is that, was it Ruairí Quinn had a very interesting piece during the middle of the campaign, in the Irish Times on Saturday, where he talked about Labour not really being a party of working class people, and that…”
Duffy: “I agree with that.”
Drennan: “…and what struck me was that, to a certain extent, Sinn Féin are not a party of working class people, in that, in that they have sort of, they’re very opposed or seem to have great difficulty in the sort of tax cuts that would improve the lives of working class people and they don’t understand that working class people aspire to improve their lives, aspire to better education, better services, they’ve no concept of that and I mean if you look at the track record of Sinn Féin in West Belfast and the, the, the almost Stalinist…”
Duffy: “The state of it, the state of it..”
Drennan: “…the East Germany economy that Gerry Adams presides over whilst he flies over in airplanes to get his teeth done in America. They do not…they are not a party with which the working class identify with. And I think they were very much squeezed in this election too, by the multitiude of options that were, such as Averil herself in Dublin Bay North, that was competition to Sinn Féin that they would not have expected and would not have wanted.”
Kenny: “But as part of their overall project they have improved their number of seats. They are obviously hoping that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will go into one massive coalition which will allow them to be the largest party on the Opposition benches, not necessarily the loudest voices because you’ll have your Mick Wallaces and you’ll have all those other people who have made the running in the last Dáil.”
Duffy: “Yes, and the party has quite a quota now Pat, of intellectual young things who are very bright, very sharp, very good, very well trained communication-wise. But it’s the gospel they preach is wrong. The performance is fantastic.”
Kenny: “Well, it has to be said…”
Duffy: “…economically, I mean…. economically, yeah.”
Kenny: “In Dun Laoghaire, when we had our debate in Dun Laoghaire the young Sinn Féin candidate, and I was talking about Gerry Adams being perhaps a liability, a political liability, and I didn’t want to go through the list of charges for fear I would be accused of actually… you know…labelling him and he said to me “well, what are you talking about?”. So then I had to begin, reluctantly…”
Kenny: “….but he said “I am a child of the Peace Process”. You know he doesn’t have any memory, he could read about it in the history books but it’s not in his DNA.”
Duffy: “And we have to give them credit, I mean we give them tremendous credit. Gerry Adams, [Martin] McGuinness and all that team and all around them for having brought us from that horrible fratricidal war to where we are – that’s to their greatest credit. Simply we don’t believe any of their economic policies.”
Drennan: “They got us into it in the first place.”
Power: “It’s not the legacy of the Troubles that’s holding them back it’s their modern day attitudes on certain issues like the Special Criminal Court. You know I’ve a constituency that includes Coolock and other areas that have been blighted by gangland crime.”
Power: “And, and people simply don’t understand Sinn Féin’s attitude on the Special Criminal Court. The notion that you would expect ordinary people to serve on a jury who would go up against these kind of gangsters without protection, people just can’t…”
Kenny: “About half of their own supporters disagree with their policy to abolish the Special Criminal Court and another interesting statistic in one of their polls was that… I think it was 40% of their people didn’t trust them on running the economy…of the people that are going to vote for them…”
Duffy: “That doesn’t surprise me…”
Kenny: “Anyway I want to read you some of the texts…”
At Leinster House this afternoon; From left: Pearse Doherty, Mary Lou McDonald, David Cullinane, Gerry Adams,and Aengus Ó Snodaigh
“As the party with the largest number of votes on the island, as the largest bloc within the Right2Change movement and as the third largest party in the Dáil and the main party of the working class in this State, it is incumbent on Sinn Féin to nominate a candidate for the position of Taoiseach when the Dáil resumes.
“Those who are homeless and those on hospital trolleys can’t wait for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – two parties with the same political philosophy and policies, with the numbers to do a deal – to try and figure out how they can control both sides of the Dáil. It is completely unacceptable.
“Sinn Féin will push for the Dáil to continue sitting, even if a Government is not formed on Thursday, to ensure ministers are held accountable for their decisions and to ensure accountability on the issues affecting citizens.”
Gerry Adams had simply recounted an incident in which the IRA raided the offices of the newspaper on 19 December 1919 during the Tan War. He also said during the speech that he ‘obviously wasn’t advocating anything like that’.