Tag Archives: Ellen Coyne

The Times Ireland edition reports:

American anti-abortion activists are planning to set up a major sister operation targeting women outside every hospital and GP clinic offering terminations in Ireland, an undercover investigation by The Times, Ireland edition has found.

Ellen Coyne, of The Times Ireland edition, explains:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Times Ireland edition journalist Ellen Coyne and a tweet by Ms Coyne last night

This afternoon.

On RTE Radio One’s The Gathering

Ellen Coyne, of The Times Ireland edition, took presenter Sean O’Rourke through the events of the week concerning her reporting of Leo Varadkar’s Strategic Communications Unit…

And how, using taxpayers’  money, paid for Government advertorials in regional newspapers and used an agency which specifically requested that the material didn’t appear as advertorial.

“The Ireland edition of The Times reported on Monday that with Ireland 2040 and with a similar advertising campaign for Creative Ireland, regional newspapers were instructed by an agency, commissioned by the Government to make publicly funded advertisements, promoting the Government, look like organic, independent news stories.

“So we reported that story on Monday, the initial reaction from Leo Varadkar was to claim that my story and similar reporting by Justine McCarthy in The Sunday Times was inaccurate.

That led to a very heated exchange in the Dail during Leaders’ Questions on Tuesday and up to the unbelievable moment on Wednesday when Leo Varadkar went into the Dail and said on the public record that, actually, my story had been filled with anonymous sources who were secretly Fianna Fail candidates which is completely untrue.

“We kept reporting this story, I think the public got angrier, the Opposition were furious.

“And then that lead up to, yesterday, Independent Government ministers pulling Leo Varadkar to explain they were extremely unhappy with this – leading to, basically, an announcement last night that, from now on, the Strategic Communications Unit is going to be issued with clear guidelines, that means that if the Government is paying for ads that appear in your local paper or national paper, it’s going to be very, very clearly marked when it is an advertorial.”

“…The Taoiseach has been blue in the face all week saying that the Irish public deserves to know what the Government is doing with its money. That’s all the Ireland edition of The Times has been doing this week – making it clear to the public what this €1.5million advertising campaign is being used for…”

Listen back in full here

Previously: “Part Of Our Deal Is That We Don’t Have Any Moniker Such As ‘Advertorial”

Earlier: Frilly Keane: Bought And Sold


Good times.

From top: Noel Rock TD; Ellen Coyne of The Times Ireland edition; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil on Tuesday and a segment of an email from Mediaforce Ireland to certain newspapers

Readers may know that The Times Ireland edition has been highlighting how the government’s  Strategic Communication Unit’s promotional campaign for Project Ireland 2040 – involved paying for editorial content in local, regional and national newspapers.

The SCU was set up by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, after he was elected leader of Fine Gael and became Taoiseach last year.

It employs 15 people and is led by John Concannon, former head of Creative Ireland. The Government has budgeted the SCU will cost €5million this year.

Times reporter Ellen Coyne is reporting that ad agency Mediaforce Ireland, on behalf of the unit, advised newspapers not to mark the content as advertorial.

And they made the same demands during a similar campaign last summer for Creative Ireland.

Ms Coyne has tweeted a segment of an email sent  to newspapers by Mediaforce Ireland, on behalf of the Strategic Communications Unit.

It states

“Part of our deal is that we won’t have any moniker such as ‘advertorial’ or ‘special feature’ or anything like that – it simply runs as normal editorial.”

Ms Coyne has further tweeted that the bold and red highlighted sections in the twee (see above) were exactly how they were presented in emails to newspapers.

During Leader’s Questions on Tuesday, Taoiseach leo Vardkar told the Dáil:

“We have already explained how this [the paid content] works. The communications unit entered into media partnerships with media organisations. What happens there is that those organisations have editorial control over content.


Readers may recall last Monday’s Today With Sean O’Rourke, when  Fine Gael TD Noel Rock had the following exchange.

Noel Rock: “They’re [the paid content] clearly identified, from the reader’s perspective. I mean, I’ve yet to see a single example of one that hasn’t been clearly identified. All I’ve seen so far are the ones in the [Irish] Independent, in The Herald, on the Journal, which said at the top and the tail ‘sponsored content’.”

Sean O’Rourke: “Maybe if we had a copy of one of those 15 regional print and online news titles, you’d get a different impression.”

Rock: Perhaps but they have yet to be produced. All I’ve seen is a trumped-up charge and a press release.”

O’Rourke: “Oh, hold on now. Trumped-up charge. That’s a pretty loaded statement. I mean you’re suggesting that there’s fake news on the front of the Times Ireland edition today?”

Rock: “What I’m saying is there’s a complaint been made to the ASA about legal, decent, honest and truthful standards in advertising. And I’ve yet to see any proof whatsoever in that regard…”



Ministers demand to meet Varadkar over Ireland 2040 (Ellen Coyne, The Times Ireland edition)

Lessons to learn (Editorial, The Times Ireland edition)

Previously: ‘You Don’t Want People To Hear About The Government’s Vision’


Some articles which ran in regional newspapers last August about Creative Ireland…

Donegal News

Meath Chronicle

Leinster Leader

Kilkenny People

Donegal Democrat


Leitrim Observer

Today’s Times Ireland edition

This morning.

Following on from Ellen Coyne’s previous reports about how the State paid for content in newspapers, including the Irish Independent and Irish Times, here and here

In today’s The Times Ireland edition.

Ms Coyne reports:

A drive to cut hospital admissions during the winter flu crisis was among the publicly funded campaigns that local papers were instructed to present as a news story, The Times can reveal.

The HSE was given final approval over journalists’ copy during the initiative, run by Mediaforce, the same agency used by the government for Ireland 2040 and Creative Ireland campaigns.

To create advertorial content, local newspaper journalists were sent to interview staff at a number of HSE injury units. The interview was arranged by the media agency. It is understood that in at least one case, the journalists had been working in-house while others were freelancers.

Mediaforce told journalists that the advertisements should be laid out like a normal news page. Yesterday, The Times revealed that the same firm told editorial staff that advertorials had to look like normal news stories.

Correspondence seen by The Times shows that after journalists wrote the interview it was laid out on the page, often labelled as a “special feature,” and the HSE was allowed to request amendments.

HSE campaign to cut hospital admissions during winter flu crisis pushed as genuine news (Ellen Coyne, Times Ireland edition)


In the Irish Independent

A British newspaper has denied it is using Facebook data to influence the result of the upcoming abortion referendum.

And the newspaper with a London-based headquarters insisted it used the social media platform to promote its stories to all sides of the abortion debate.

The pro-life side of the abortion campaign has frequently accused ‘The Times, Ireland Edition’ of being biased in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment.

British newspaper in ‘bid to influence abortion vote’ denial (Irish Independent)


Last night…

Ah here.

Peter Murtagh?

Previously:  Propaganda Is Something You Pay For

From top: Project 2040 advertorial in Saturday’s Irish Times and Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Further to a Dail discussion about Government-sponsored advertorials – via the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Strategic Communications Unit – in relation to the National Development Plan being published in the Irish Independent and Irish Times

And today’s front page story in the Times Ireland edition by Ellen Coyne about similar advertorials made to look like independent news articles in regional newspapers and similar coverage of Creative Ireland last summer…

And an article in yesterday’s The Sunday Times – by Justine McCarthy – in which it was reported that financial advisor Karl Deeter and economist Constantin Gurdgiev were never told they were being interviewed for State-paid advertorials when they gave comments to The Herald for articles about the National Development Plan…

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy was asked by Mr O’Rourke about the Social Democrats’ decision to make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority over paid coverage of the Government plan for Project 2040.

Mr O’Rourke also mentioned the front page story in today’s Times Ireland edition by Ellen Coyne (more below)

Ms Murphy said:

“Yes, because essentially there’s advertisements that are, there’s really propaganda. There’s a difference between journalism and propaganda and propaganda is something you pay for. The whole area of journalism is incredibly important and the fourth estate in relation to an aspect of our system that holds people to account.

“…If somebody is reading one of those papers, I mean there’s a great deal of trust in terms of regional newspapers, you know, in terms of they’re bought very often, and people feel they’re very reliable. You start interfering with you, start paying for advertisement – this is the Strategic Communications Unit…

There’s an ethical issue here and there’s an issue for the Advertising Standards Authority. If this is an advertisement, it should be marked as an advertisement. If this is genuine journalism, it shouldn’t, there shouldn’t be an issue.”


In today’s Times Ireland edition

Ellen Coyne reports:

Regional newspapers were instructed to make government advertorials look like independent stories and in some cases part of “the normal news cycle,” The Times can reveal.

Editors at several local titles raised concerns after they were instructed not to clearly mark as a commercial feature sponsored content about Ireland 2040, the national development plan.

A similar campaign for Creative Ireland, the government’s cultural programme, also banned newspapers from marking its adverts and said that newspapers would have covered the content anyway, The Times has learnt.

…The 15-person strategic communications unit (SCU) was set up by Mr Varadkar when he succeeded Enda Kenny as taoiseach. It is led by John Concannon, former head of Creative Ireland.

…One local editor told The Times: “This is fake news. Newspapers are struggling and the government know that, so they’ve got us by the balls.”

Make 2040 ads look like real news, papers told (Ellen Coyne, The Times Ireland edition)


Following on from Ms Murphy’s comments about the Strategic Communications Unit and the advertorials, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock (above) spoke to Sean O’Rourke about the same.

Noel Rock:They’re clearly identified, from the readers’ perspective. I mean, I’ve yet to see a single example of one that hasn’t been clearly identified. All I’ve seen so far are the ones in the [Irish] Independent, in The Herald, on the Journal, which said at the top and the tail ‘sponsored content’.”

Sean O’Rourke:Maybe if we had a copy of one of those 15 regional print and online news titles, you’d get a different impression.”

Rock: Perhaps but they have yet to be produced. All I’ve seen is a trumped-up charge and a press release.”

O’Rourke: “Oh, hold on now. Trumped-up charge. That’s a pretty loaded statement. I mean you’re suggesting that there’s fake news on the front of the Times Ireland edition today?

Rock: “What I’m saying is there’s a complaint been made to the ASA about legal, decent, honest and truthful standards in advertising. And I’ve yet to see any proof whatsoever in that regard. What I do see…”

O’Rrourke: “Proof is one thing, evidence is another. I suppose it’s for the [Advertising] Standards Authority to decide which is which. We’ll leave it there for now…”

Listen back in full here


The Women’s Centre on Berkeley Street, Inns Quay, Dublin

Re (al) Productive Health writes:

In February 2014, we held a picket outside the anti-choice counselling office on Berkeley Road to oppose the intimidation and lies the ‘clinic’ promoted and its location beside a Marie Stopes service.

A report this morning from Ellen Coyne and Catherine Sanz [in The Times Ireland edition] has revealed that the service advises that abortions ’cause breast cancer and can turn women into child abusers’.

This service tells women lies, intimidates and cooercives their choices and is directly linked to Catholic anti-abortion groups.

We deserve better than this, we deserve to be given factual, non-judgemental information and to be supported in accessing safe and free reproductive choices along the spectrum.

Please join us to protest against this service and insist that dangerous, unregulated services such as this are closed.

Re(al) Productive Health (Facebook)

Earlier: Behind The Blue Door

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.46.35

Acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly outside the newly built modular homes in Ballymun yesterday

Further to yesterday’s forum on housing and homelessness in Dublin, during which acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly claimed the constitution prevented him from fixing the housing crisis…

Ellen Coyne, in The Times Ireland edition, writes:

Mr Kelly, according to himself, is an unsung hero who tried to save us all from vulture funds, mean landlords and undesirable developers. The whole time that the media and homelessness charities were claiming government inaction on the issue, Mr Kelly was trying again and again to pass remedying legislation, only to be foiled every time by that nefarious constitution.

“I didn’t have to do this [forum],” Mr Kelly said nobly. “I was under no obligation.”

…Mr Kelly stood beaming and posing outside one of the [modular] houses [in Ballymun] as if he was about to start hosting his own episode of Room to Improve.

“The minister will take some questions on modular housing first,” Mr Kelly’s special adviser said.

“Temporary housing,” Mr Kelly interjected.

You’re not supposed to use “modular housing” for the “fast build” homes, which are finally almost finished, over budget and well over deadline. They cost more than other properties for sale in the area, and there are concerns that they looked suspiciously more like permanent, normal houses where people could end up living for years.

“I’m not a developer,” Mr Kelly pleaded.

Neither were any of the journalists but most of them noticed something strange about the houses. Is it normal for temporary housing to be made of bricks?

“No,” Bríd McGrath, the head of social policy for Respond Housing Association, said.

The houses are very warm and nice and big. A bit like ministerial offices, only a tad smaller, one presumes.

“I’d say they’ll have problems getting people out of these,” Ms McGrath said as the camera flashes exploded around a temporary minister who, unfortunately, doesn’t have the option of staying put.

I tried to save you, insists unsung hero as he scuttles for the door (Ellen Coyne, The Times Ireland edition)

Previously: ‘There Was No Concrete Plan’

Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews


How Clare Daly’s bill to allow for abortions in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities was voted down in February 2015

Yesterday Ellen Coyne, in the Ireland edition of The Times, reported that a consultant in Ireland advised mother-of-two Sarah – who had a nonviable pregnancy – to go to England for the first part of a termination and then return home and fake a miscarriage.

Sarah, and her partner, Michael (not real names) went to England with the intention of following the consultant’s advice.

However, upon arrival, the doctors told the couple they would have to contact Sarah’s consultant in Ireland to make sure she would induce Sarah and deliver the baby.

The doctors later informed the couple the consultant in Ireland told them she wouldn’t agree to treat Sarah.

The couple came back to Ireland and then returned to England for the full procedure. Their son was delivered at 24 weeks.

Sarah and Michael had to “smuggle his coffin on the ferry” home while Sarah later became seriously ill with sepsis.

Further to this, Ms Coyne reports today from Michael’s perspective and, specifically, about how Irish doctors are legally restricted from referring couples to hospitals in the UK.

Michael told Ms Coyne:

Everyone was sort of saying it, but saying nothing at the same time. We couldn’t get advice on that from Irish hospitals because they’re bound by Irish law, they explained that to us. We’d been told in roundabout ways about the options, and really the only option we had was to travel for a termination.”

“We had absolutely zero support here in Ireland. There was some people we could talk to, but essentially, by law, nobody could help us.”

“…It was very traumatic to think that we were essentially in three different hospitals over the space of a few weeks and it ended with Sarah potentially losing her life. This problem could have been dealt with so much further back.”

“That was very, very hard to take. It was worrying times for ourselves here. My future that was staring at me was being a single dad to the kids. Not alone losing Sarah, that would be agonising enough but just after that, the kids losing their mother.”

“…We could see that we were failed by the system. Ireland just doesn’t want to know. The main concern I have would be that Britain one day says, well, we don’t want to know either.”

‘After the diagnosis, the hospital turfed us out on the street’ (Ellen Coyne, The Times)

Pregnant mother’s treatment was ‘inhuman’ (The Times)

Previously: ‘I Was Told To Fake A Miscarriage’

Was It Really Unconstitutional?


Ellen Coyne, in the Ireland edition of The Times, writes:

A mother of two who was pregnant with a baby suffering from a fatal foetal abnormality claims that she was advised to travel to Britain to undergo the first part of a termination before travelling home and faking a miscarriage.

Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said she was told to travel to a British hospital to have an injection that would stop her baby’s heart, before returning to Ireland and saying that she believed that she had miscarried.

However, her consultant allegedly declined to confirm that Sarah would be cared for on her return home when contacted by British doctors.

Sarah described her experience as “horrific” and said that she was forced to travel to Britain twice before finally having a termination at almost 24 weeks. She ended up having to smuggle her son’s body home in the back of her car and then became seriously ill with sepsis.

When I came back to Ireland I was to present myself at [the hospital] with lack of movement. I was not supposed to tell them what I had done. I had to play out this drama; what’s our story? What’s the lie I have to keep up?” Sarah said.

“They were going to scan me, they were going to tell me that they were very sorry, that the baby had passed away. I was not to let on that I had had a feticide injection, and then I was supposed to be induced and deliver.”

“…Three consultant obstetricians have separately confirmed to The Times that they were aware of other Irish hospitals telling women they can go to England for the first half of a termination.”

One said that consultants who told women about the practice could face legal action if they were seen to be taking part in the second half of an illegal abortion.”

Woman in fatal foetal abnormality case speaks out about ‘horrific experience’ (The Times)

Sarah’s story (The Times)

Sarah’s story:activists demand change to law (The Times)

Willingness to travel for termination proves law is failing (Ellen Coyne, The Times, opinion)