Tag Archives: Irish Independent

ctt08_kwyaatcyh

From yesterday’s Irish Independent

You may recall a post yesterday by Saoirse McGarrigle about the victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally – an accountant from a well-known Fianna Fáil family and basketball coach in Waterford – who want a Commission of Investigation.

They believe senior gardai, members of Fianna Fáil, members of the Catholic Church and staff at the South Eastern Health Board failed to act when told about the abuse.

Kenneally was convicted earlier this year, after victim Jason Clancy came forward in 2012, but Gardaí knew about the abuse as far back as 1985.

Kenneally’s uncle was the late TD Bill Kenneally, who died in 2009, and who was succeeded by his son Brendan Kenneally.

Brendan Kenneally was told about the abuse by a Waterford woman in 2002 but he didn’t tell gardai. Instead, he spoke to another uncle and local priest – and current chairman of the board of management at Holy Cross National School in Tramore, Co Waterford – Monsignor John Shine –  and arranged counselling for Bill Kenneally.

Brendan Kenneally did not report the matter to the gardaí.

The article by Ms McGarrigle, a broadcast journalist with South East Radio, followed a piece in the Sunday Independent by Damien Tiernan, of RTE.

Further to this, the Irish Independent yesterday ran a story about Kenneally’s victims calling for a commission of investigation with a double byline containing the names Conor Feehan and Saoirse McGarrigle – even though the newspaper didn’t print the copy McGarrigle submitted.

In addition, the article included a picture of Brendan Kenneally with the caption:

“Brendan Kenneally is reportedly no longer a Fianna Fáil member.”

Further to this…

Last night, Ms McGarrigle tweeted:

Brendan Kenneally is still a member of Fianna Fáil – in fact he’s Hon Sec of the Thomas Clarke Cumann.

There you go now.

Saoirse McGarrigle can be followed on Twitter here

Previously: Protected For 30 Years

Pic: Gemma O’Doherty

UPDATE:

monsignor-shine-oliver-march-19th-009

Monsignor John Shine

In today’s Irish Mirror, Ms McGarrigle reports:

Victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally are calling for a parish priest to resign as chair of a primary school board of management.

Monsignor John Shine is an uncle of Bill Kenneally and heads up the Holy Cross National School in Tramore, Co Waterford.

…Holy Cross principal John Kindlon said he could not comment on the situation as he is directly employed by the board of management which is chaired by Monsignor Shine.

Contacted by this newspaper the priest refused to discuss the issue.

He added: “No I won’t talk to you. I’m having my lunch.”

Victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally call for a parish priest to resign as chair of a primary school board of management (Irish Mirror)

Pic: Holy Cross

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-37-03

It’s not just wellies and muddy furrows you know.

Sinn Féin, on Facebook, writes:

The Irish Independent at Ploughing16 hosted a ‘Farmer’s makeover’. They’ve now removed all footage of the event from their website and YouTube account.

Watch as one of the ‘Farmer’s makeover’ participants criticises the Independent’s coverage of Sinn Féin and the microphone is immediately grabbed from his hand and sound is switched off…

Previously: RTE, Sinn Fein And Insidious Propaganda

maryboyle

independent

From top: Gemma O’Doherty’s documentary, Mary Boyle: The Untold Story; Independent.ie logo.

Gemma O’Doherty posted her documentary Mary Boyle: The Untold Story on YouTube on July 4 – about the disappearance of six-year-old twin Mary Boyle in Donegal in 1977.

The documentary, which has been viewed more than 160,000 times, features interviews with retired sergeant Martin Collins and retired detective sergeant Aidan Murray, in which they allege political interference in the investigation into Mary’s disappearance.

It’s been recently reported in the Independent that both men have since denied there was political interference.

Ms O’Doherty, in an interview with Ocean FM yesterday, said, once the documentary was posted online, the two men were very happy with the documentary; she hasn’t been contacted by either of the men and that she finds the reports to be “very sinister”.

The documentary has been the subject of several critical stories in the Independent, where Ms O’Doherty worked as a journalist before she was fired after calling to the home of the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to question him about quashed penalty points.

And yet it is the paper’s recent coverage of Mary Boyle’s fate, much like the recent ‘revelations’ concerning Philip Cairns case, that have sown the most confusion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 (morning): Irish Independent reports on a report by the Irish Daily Star that, in the next few weeks, the Garda cold case unit will launch a “fresh investigation” into the disappearance of Mary Boyle, “with all evidence and suspects to be reexamined”.

Following the investigation, which is expected to last six months, a report will be given to the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

It’s reported:

“‘The first thing that will happen is that the team will go to Donegal (where Mary disappeared) to get a feel for the area,’ a source told [the] newspaper. The source also revealed that the detectives would draw up a list of all serving and retired gardai that investigated Mary’s disappearance in 1977. The source said that the new cold case team would have no pre-conceived ideas of who was or wasn’t a suspect and that all evidence would be followed.”

The report mentions former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty’s documentary about Mary’s disappearance – without naming Ms O’Doherty.

It’s reported:

“After a documentary into the investigation earlier this month called Mary Boyle: The Untold Story, there were claims of political interference by two former gardai involved in the case. Retired sergeant Martin Collins claimed a political figure rang gardai at the height of the probe and said: ‘The gist was that none of a particular family should be made suspect for Mary’s interference’.

“Former detective Aidan Murray told the documentary he believed he was close to getting a suspect to confess to murdering Mary but was told to ‘ease-off’ on the suspect by a senior officer. Mary’s twin sister Ann said she believes Mary was being sexually abused and was killed to cover ‘the secret’.”

In addition, it’s reported:

“Six-year-old Mary Boyle had been at her grandparents’ house in Cashelard, a remote and boggy townland outside Ballyshannon, where the extended family had lunch. Her uncle, Gerry Gallagher, was the last person to see her alive after she walked back to her grandparent’s house but never made it there.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 (evening): Independent.ie reports that the gardaí have confirmed that cold case detectives are reviewing the Mary Boyle case.

However, they also report

“In a statement given to independent.ie this evening, Garda HQ said a review is underway into the disappearance of Mary. This evening gardaí dismissed reports that a new investigation is underway, saying the case has never been closed… However the statement said it is being reviewed.”

The statement is reported as saying:

“The disappearance of Mary Boyle is under active investigation as it has been since Mary disappeared and that investigation will continue. Any new information that is reported to An Garda Síochána, in relation to an ongoing investigation, will be investigated accordingly.

“As well as the investigation at the time there have been two reviews by An Garda Síochána into Mary’s disappearance. The latest began in 2011 and is being undertaken by a Review Team from the Northern Region.

“The Review team has to date conducted a significant investigation that has involved interviewing a wide range of people and undertaking a number of searches with the assistance of forensic and geology experts. Its investigation is ongoing.

“The Serious Crime Review team has recently been tasked to review the case. The Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) was established in August 2007 to review of unresolved homicides and other serious crimes within the State.

“The primary purpose of a review is to assist Senior Investigation Officers who are investigating a serious crime by identifying new and potential investigative opportunities. Members of the SCRT are trained in homicide investigation and in the reviewing of unresolved homicides.

“The SCRT comes under the command of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services and the Office of the Detective Chief Superintendent, National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The head of the Serious Crime Review Team is Detective Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan.”

Friday, July 14, 2016: The Irish Independent reports on an Irish Daily Star report that says a 73-year-old fisherman PJ Coughlan claims he saw ‘a red Volkswagen Beetle speeding away from the area that Mary went missing ten minutes before he saw Mary’s uncle Gerry frantically searching for her’.

Mr Coughlan is quoted as saying: “I believe I saw her being driven away in a car. There’s no doubt in my mind she was lifted.”

It’s reported that:

“Coughlan was the first person at the Garda station in Ballyshannon in 1977 to report Mary’s disappearance. He said he told gardai about the car but he claimed that this wasn’t recorded because the gardai already had a suspect. Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan has confirmed that the cold case investigation into Mary’s disappearance will be launched in the next few weeks and will last up to six months.”

In addition, it’s reported that Mary’s sister Ann Doherty has complained to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission over “gardai leaking information about the new investigation to the Irish Daily Star before she was notified.”

The article also includes a statement from Ann Doherty’s solicitor, Darragh Mackin which states:

“It is deeply troubling, that a decision was taken to provide such a development in an exclusive to a national newspaper, before conveying same to our client. Our Client, Ms Doherty has still not been contacted by An Garda Siochana to confirm the contents of the article and therefore we are not in a position to confirm the accuracy of whether or not there is in fact a fresh probe into the disappearance of Mary Boyle, on foot of the recently published documentary.”

Saturday, July 15, 2016: The Irish Independent reports that gardai have started to search a bog – that was previously searched – in Donegal “as a fresh investigation is underway into the disappearance of six-year-old Mary Boyle”. It’s reported that the bog is being drained.

The article repeats the claims of political interference made by two gardai in the documentary Mary Boyle: The Untold Story – again, without naming Gemma O’Doherty as having made the documentary.

Saturday, July 15, 2016 (later in the day):  The Irish Independent reports that “an excavation” has been started on land near where Mary Boyle went missing.

Monday, July 18, 2016: The Irish Independent reports that Fianna Fáil councillor Sean McEniff has released a statement.

The statement is quoted as saying:

“Mr McEniff emphatically and unconditionally denies that he was the politician who allegedly contacted the Gardai in Ballyshannon at the time of the disappearance of Mary Boyle.

“He has no knowledge of such a call other than what he has heard recently on what was contained in the video “Mary Boyle, The Untold Story”.”

“Mr McEniff is satisfied that the two former Gardai interviewed as part of the video have recently clarified that at the time of the disappearance or in the investigation that followed neither were aware of any such alleged phonecall and that there was no impediment from their superiors in the investigation as a result.”

It’s further reported:

“Mr McEniff also asserted his right to a good name and said he has taken legal advice in relation to what he says are defamatory comments ‘made both directly and by innuendo’.”

“The statement says he will also ‘take such steps as are necessary to protect his reputation’. He alleges that comments and statements made in relation to the issue are false, malicious and damaging to him. The statement also says Mr McEniff will make no further public statements in relation to the issue and all further related issues will be dealt with through his solicitors.”

The article names Gemma O’Doherty as the creator of the documentary.

It also states that McEniff, who has been a Donegal County Councillor for more than 40 years, supports the call for a Commission of Investigation into Mary Boyle’s case.

Sunday, August 14, 2016: The Sunday Independent reports that retired detective sergeant Aidan Murray, who was in Ms O’Doherty’s documentary, denies claims of political interference in the investigation into the disappearance of Mary Boyle.

It’s reported:

“Retired detective sergeant Aidan Murray, who featured in Mary Boyle: The Untold Story, has claimed the programme was ‘selective’ and ‘misleading’ in how it presented his interview.”

“In a sworn statement to a solicitor, Mr Murray said that at no stage during his investigation into the disappearance of the little girl in Donegal was he subjected to ‘interference’ or ‘pressure’.”

“He said his two senior officers, a superintendent and an inspector, were ‘honourable and professional men’ and ‘at no point attempted to influence’ him in the conduct of the investigation.”

“He alleged that the documentary had ‘taken a number of my comments out of context and creates the wrong impression’.”

“Mr Murray’s comments echo those of his former colleague, retired sergeant Martin Collins, who also featured in the documentary, Mary Boyle: The Untold Story. Speaking to his local newspaper in Donegal, Mr Collins also denied any political interference.’”

In addition, it’s reported:

“In the statement, which he made last week, Mr Murray said: ‘I was not aware of any alleged phone call at the time and I subsequently heard the rumour many months later at a garda conference.’ He said: ‘The reason Inspector Daly asked me to pause the interview was because of his genuine concern for the mental health of the person being interviewed. It was not for any other reason.’”

“Mr Murray alleged that the Mary Boyle documentary was ‘selectively edited to suggest that this was because of political interference. This is absolutely incorrect.’”

Monday, August 15, 2016: The Irish Independent repeats sections of the Sunday Independent report in relation to Mr Murray but includes that, “Mr Murray says Fianna Fáil councillor Sean McEniff ‘did not make any phone or contact the gardai in relation to the investigation’.”

The article also includes sections of Mr McEniff’s statement of July where he denied contacting the gardaí in Ballyshannon at the time of Mary’s disappearance.

It further includes a line about retired Sgt Collins, saying “[Collings] emphatically told a local Donegal newspaper that there had been no political or garda cover-up.”

Further to the reports above, Ms O’Doherty did an interview with Ocean FM yesterday.

During the interview, Ms O’Doherty said:

“I have to say that it’s very alarming. Aidan Murray has not contacted me about this, nor asked me to retract anything that he said in my documentary and nor will I be retracting anything.

“Aidan Murray is very clear, in the documentary when he said, in his own words, that certain people were not allowed to be interviewed, as a result of the politician’s phone call. He said that, I didn’t, it came out of his own mouth. You cannot really un-say what you have said.

“…We did actually record them twice because I was involved with UTV Northern Ireland, making a documentary, and the two men travelled over to Lough Erne Resort and we did interview there.

“Now, we decided we weren’t going to go ahead with UTV, for a number of reasons, so this was something that they did at their own free will. And, you know, I know that after the documentary was aired, on July the 4th, they expressed profound happiness about it.

“Margo spoke to both of them, Margo O’Donnell and she said that they were overjoyed. And I spoke to them and I know that that was their sense as well. So, I haven’t heard from them in relation to this sudden retraction but I do find it very sinister.”

Meanwhile, Mary Boyle: The Untold Story will be screened in Eoin’s Bar on Clanbrassil Street in Dundalk, Co. Louth tonight,  followed by a Q&A with Ms O’Doherty and Margo O’Donnell.

It will begin at 8pm and admission is free.

Producer of Mary Boyle documentary describes statement as ‘sinister’ (Ocean FM)

Watch Mary Boyle: The Untold Story here

Thanks Rory

independent

Today’s Independent.ie

Further to the conviction of Marta Herda for murder yesterday.

Dancost writes:

Hillary accepts the nomination stateside and ‘Repeal the 8th’ seems to be scrawled on every second wall in Dublin. And a female journalist writing for the Irish Independent pens anarticle on the ever changing wardrobe of Marta Herda during her murder trial:

‘Some days she carried not one but two statement leather handbags as she began to find her fashion feet.

Herda also began wearing a pair of trendy dark glasses – by the end of the trial, she could have passed for one of the legal secretaries sitting in on her trial.

One could never imagine that the well-groomed, harmless-looking woman was actually accused of murder.’

Struggling to remember the last time I saw an article written about the fashion choices of man on trial for murder. Holding the cause back a bit eh?

How Herda Sharpened her Look During Murder Trial (Irish Independent(

john-mcguinness-public-accounts-committee-4-752x501

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness

Mr McGuinness continues to claim he did no wrong in secretly meeting Callinan and not telling anybody about it until now. Yet the Fianna Fáil TD accepts his information may have helped the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation into whistleblower allegations. His excuses for not coming forward before are less than convincing.

Is his decision to divulge the information now related to him not being reappointed as chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee and being notably left off Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s frontbench?

Whatever about his role as a TD – only the voters of Carlow-Kilkenny can pass judgment on that – Mr McGuinness was negligent in his duty as chairman of the Dáil’s most powerful committee, which is supposed to be the taxpayers’ watchdog.

The public deserved better from the holder of that role. And these matters are more important than John McGuinness’s ego and attention-seeking antics.

Right so.

From an editorial in today’s Irish Independent.

McGuinness negligent as chairman of Dáil PAC (Irish Independent)

Previously: Better Late Than Never

‘We Are Part Of The Cover-Up’

Did The Editor Have His Points Quashed?

90390660Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 13.52.17kevin2

From top: RTÉ; today’s Irish Independent; Kevin Rafter

The main story in this morning’s Irish Independent, by Fionnan Sheahan and Kevin Doyle, is headlined ‘Revealed: Sinn Féin’s bid to intimidate RTÉ’.

It is based on an academic paper by Associate Professor of Political Communication Kevin Rafter, of Dublin City University, who looked at RTÉ’s coverage of the 2011 general election.

The Irish Independent article states:

A study of coverage in the 2011 general election shows Sinn Féin and the Labour Party got too much attention from RTÉ.

However, an internal RTÉ review found there had been “a campaign orchestrated by Sinn Féin supporters” to complain about time allocations to their party and candidates.

In addition:

…Gerry Adams’s party is now trying to bully RTÉ into giving it more favourable treatment in the General Election. Even RTÉ’s best-known current affairs broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan is being attacked on the internet by Sinn Féin supporters.

In relation to Sinn Féin’s ‘bid to intimidate RTÉ’, the Irish Independent refers to a story in An Phoblacht published two days ago, and tweets sent to RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan about the fact that her brother Jim O’Callaghan is a Fianna Fáil candidate.

In reference to the An Phoblacht article, Mr Sheahan reports:

The party is complaining about RTÉ featuring its stance on the abolition of the Special Criminal Court last week.

“RTÉ News is being challenged by Sinn Féin about why its choosing of news stories with a slant against the party is being unfairly used to slash its election coverage,” the party said in its propaganda newspaper, ‘An Phoblacht’.

In addition, in a separate opinion piece by Mr Sheahan, he claims:

The Shinnerbots have been busy over recent days as the party has claimed it is being silenced by RTÉ. Supporters are sharing and reacting to their campaign claiming victimhood.

… Regulating the Airwaves: How Political Balance is Achieved in Practice in Election News Coverage also reveals an insidious campaign by Sinn Féin supporters to bully RTÉ into giving their candidates more airtime.

…The “orchestrated campaign” clearly worked.

So Sinn Féin is at it again.

Mr Rafter’s paper – Regulating the Airwaves: How Political Balance is Achieved in Practice in Election News Coverage – does state that an internal RTÉ review found there had been “a campaign orchestrated by Sinn Féin supporters”.

However the paper includes no details of the  campaign.

It simply refers to a note about ‘a campaign’ by Sinn Féin in an RTÉ review and even refers to it as being ‘a low level campaign by Sinn Féin supporters’.

Further to this…

New laws, enacted in 2009, meant that the regulation of both public and private broadcasters were to be regulated by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

However, Mr Rafter noted:

The BAI’s Code on Election Coverage did not contain any practical guidelines on how broadcasters were to ensure their election coverage was fair, objective and impartial. The document noted that it was ‘a matter for individual broadcasters to decide the most effective way to reflect all the interests involved in an election…’.

As such, broadcasters were left to their own devices in implementing campaign communication regulations. Moreover, the BAI did not actively monitor coverage for compliance. Members of the public with a grievance were facilitated through the normal broadcast complaints system overseen by the BAI, which essentially meant complaints could not be adjudicated upon during the election period.

Either way, in light of this legal change, Mr Rafter looked at the impact of these regulations on RTÉ and its coverage of the Irish general election in 2011 in three specific areas – RTÉ’s election news coverage, its political advertising and its leader debates.

To carry out his investigation, Mr Rafter focused on minutes of internal meetings at RTÉ during the campaign period and other documentation, including minutes of RTÉ’s Steering Committee – made up of senior managers from across RTÉ and whose purpose was to contribute ‘to the goal of objective, impartial and fair coverage by RTÉ of the election campaign and count programming’.

The committee also liaised with political parties.

In relation to members of the SC meeting with representatives of the main political parties – Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin – to discuss the leader debates, Mr Rafter states:

“Formal representations throughout the campaign were viewed as relatively low with individual programmes receiving what was described as the ‘usual amount of representations from the parties about perceived inadequacies in RTE´s coverage’. There were, however, repeated references to complaints from Sinn Féin supporters. At the conclusion of the election, an internal review noted that that there had been ‘a campaign orchestrated by Sinn Féin supporters’. Many of these complaints were about time allocations to parties and candidates. It was adjudged that there was ‘a low level campaign by Sinn Féin supporters’ who claimed their party was under-represented based on its standing in public opinion polls. This bias claim was, however, not borne out by internal data compiled by RTE during the campaign…”

It is this paragraph that is the basis for this morning’s Irish Independent story.

However, a closer look at Mr Rafter’s analysis shows a much more interesting story – how RTÉ struggled to give a fair amount of time to small parties and Independent candidates.

Mr Rafter explains that, traditionally, RTÉ allocated air time to different parties during a general election campaign based on the first preference votes each party won in the previous general election – with some flexibility extended when there were changes in public opinion or the emergence of new parties.

However, RTÉ was ‘unable to take account of the dramatic shifts in public opinion’ – shown in the table below – in the run-up to the 2011 general election:

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.27.00

Mr Rafter explained that, in November 2010, a list of 12 questions were distributed in an RTÉ staff memo outlining what aspects should be considered in regards to coverage.

But, Mr Rafter said:

“In truth, the unwieldy 12-point list offered little clarification. There was an absence of weighting criteria to specify the relative importance of each point in determining on-air coverage allocations. As the general election campaign drew closer, there was further internal discussion about the distribution of on-air time among the political parties. What is evident from minutes of these discussions is acceptance that the changed political landscape since 2007 meant the traditional policy based on the previous general election results was unsustainable.”

In January 2011, RTÉ then ‘privately examined’ several different ways of calculating a way of allocating on-air time and even engaged in ‘confidential discussions’ with ‘a number of academics to examine how RTE should deal with coverage allocation’.

Following these private discussions, there was a preference for the following four factors to be considered: first preference votes in the 2007 election; percentage of seats held by the party at the calling of the election in 2011; an estimate of the number of candidates nominated by each party in 2011; and an average of (a) average opinion poll results from 2007 to 2011, (b) percentage of first preference vote in the 2009 European elections and (c) percentage of first preference vote in the 2009 local elections.

But, Mr Rafter noted, while several different options were considered:

‘When the calculations were undertaken, however, the coverage allocation outcomes per party were in fact relatively similar.’

In particular there was a problem with the fourth factor, in regards to polls, given that smaller parties were not included in national polls.

Mr Rafter stated:

“This weakness was acknowledged with a proposal that category four for smaller parties would be calculated only on local and European results in 2009. The wider issue of basing coverage allocations in a national parliamentary election on the results from second-order electoral contests, where results can vary with ‘very little at stake’, does not appear to have been considered.”

Mr Rafter also stated that, in addition to these discussions being held in private, the BAI was not consulted about them.

Mr Rafter said that while RTÉ claimed to endeavour for its political party coverage not to ‘be reduced to a stopwatch exercise’ it was, in fact, ‘very much driven by time allocations’.

In a bid to monitor its coverage, RTÉ employed a researcher for the duration of the election to prepare reports on the proportion of on-air time given to candidates and parties – including the following table:

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 15.46.49

Mr Rafter explained:

“The data in Table 2 are drawn from the results of RTE’s own monitoring of its programme coverage during the 2011 election campaign. The data are cumulative, so for example, the figures on 8 February include all programme coverage from the start of monitoring on 1 February up until 8 February.”

From the outset of the election campaign internal concerns were expressed in RTE about the proportion of coverage being given to independent candidates and those representing smaller parties. Examples of recorded comments include the following: ‘It was emphasised that all programmes must work towards getting the proportion of attention given to independents and smaller parties up to acceptable levels’, ‘…some concerns at the need to significantly increase the level of attention to others/smaller parties’, ‘Once again programme makers were asked to use every available opportunity to include others/smaller parties as the guideline for their proportion of attention was difficult to achieve’, ‘Concerns continue to be raised about the excessive level of attention to Labour and the under-attention for independents and others.’

Specifically, RTÉ’s review of its coverage – at the midpoint of the election – found the following:

Fianna Fáil was in the 30-31 per cent range when the guidelines stated FF should receive 31 per cent.

Fine Gael was in the 25-27 per cent range when the guidelines stated FG should receive 27 per cent.

Labour was in the 20-25 per cent range when the guidelines stated Labour should receive 13 per cent.

Sinn Féin was in the 9-12 per cent range when the guidelines stated SF should receive 7 per cent.

Green Party was in the 5-8 per cent range when the guidelines stated it should receive 5 per cent.

Others/independents were in the 3-8 per cent range when guidelines stated they should receive 18 per cent.

Mr Rafter noted from the minutes of RTÉ’s Steering Committee, that:

“Specific suggestions to address the problem included devoting more time to smaller parties and independents on afternoon television programmes and on Late Debate, a late night radio programme. The fact that these slots in the programme schedules attracted relatively modest audiences vis-a-vis appearances on prime time news and current affairs programmes was not mentioned.”

In addition, after the 2011 election, it was noted in minutes of the RTE Steering Committee from March 2011 that, ‘as with previous elections the level of attention given to independents remains problematic’.

Mr Rafter explained that RTE proffered different reasons for the imbalance of its coverage:

“Several justifications were postulated within RTE in the aftermath of the general election to explain the imbalance in coverage across the various political groupings. Sensitivity relating to coverage of independent candidates was evident.”

Justifications – perhaps better described as excuses – included the fact that ‘independents with little or no track record find it difficult to get on radio or television’: ‘the role of political parties in government forming’; and the strength of established parties ‘given that elections are largely fought through political parties and track records are important in determining attention this is inevitable’.”

“The post-election rationale, however, contrasts sharply with the ongoing internal concern repeatedly expressed during the campaign itself and does little to explain why the evident coverage variations were not more seriously addressed in programme output during the campaign itself.

“This outcome hardly meets the BAI’s requirement to deal with election coverage issues at an early stage. Moreover, once decisions were taken internally within RTE, the provision of information to all interested parties, including it is assumed voters, was not a priority.”

Regulating the Airwaves: How Political Balance is Achieved in Practice in Election News Coverage (Irish Political Studies)

Revealed: Sinn Féin’s bid to intimidate RTÉ (Irish Independent)

Revealed: Sinn Féin’s ‘orchestrated campaign’ of intimidation against RTÉ (Fionnan Sheahan, Irish Independent)

How bullying RTÉ worked for Sinn Féin at the last election, so the party is at it again (Fionnan Sheahan, Irish Independent)

00042034-642justine

 From top: Pat Carey and Justine McCarthy

Last week’s story in the Irish Independent, concerning child sex abuse allegations and the subsequent resignation of former Fianna Fáil minister Pat Carey as the party’s director of elections, was discussed by the newspaper panel on RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane show yesterday.

The panel included Eoghan O’Neachtain, director of Henaghan Communications and former Government press secretary ; Herve Amoric, of France 24; Justine McCarthy, of The Sunday Times; Noel Whelan, barrister and Irish Times columnist; Michael Colgan, artistic director at Gate Theatre; John O’Brien, former detective chief superintendent and national head of both Interpol and Europol and financial analyst Cormac Lucey.

From their discussion…

Justine McCarthy: “I think this story raises very important and big questions for us as journalists. You know, what should be reported and what shouldn’t. And there are very strong opinion columns in today’s papers. In my own paper, Conor Brady has one and he, of course, is worth reading having been the editor of the Irish Times but also having been the chairman of GSOC. He says this case is about as tentative as can be. He’s making the argument that Pat Carey, as we now know, is the person that the allegation seems to have been made about.”

Marian Finucane: “But we don’t know.”

McCarthy: “No but it seems, because of his resignation, he says he doesn’t know himself. This is now the basis on which the stories are being written, that it is him because of his resignation. He hadn’t been interviewed by the guards, he hadn’t been contacted. But worse, he was never contacted by the Irish Independent, seeking a comment from him before they published this story.”

Finucane: “But they didn’t publish the name. It said it was the minister, a former minister. Actually, I thought at one stage there was a rumour, floating around, that it was a minister from the Midlands, a former minister.”

McCarthy: “There was a mention of the Midlands all right and that, it seemed to indicate the Midlands. But no the name, as the Sunday Business Post says, the name was being circulated amongst politicians and journalists by eight o’clock on Wednesday morning. It was inevitable…”

Finucane: “Yes, but how, who, where, why, what? Do you know what I mean? If he hadn’t been approached, and in his statement he said because people were ringing him for a comment, that it dawned on him that it was he, but that he’s absolutely declaring his innocence and I don’t think the gardaí have approached him.”

McCarthy: “No they haven’t because it seems to be, at the very outset of the process, that the complaint was only recently made. Now it would be natural that the guards would do the investigation of the complaint before they would then, in a case like this, approach the person the allegation has been made about. But I find it extraordinary that whether they were naming the person or not that they did not attempt to contact the person the allegation was made about in order to see was that person prepared to be identified, did that person want to give a response? It’s a basic journalistic exercise and yet his story appeared as the main story on the front of a national paper on Wednesday, I don’t see any justification for it being reported at this stage. And Maeve Lewis, of One In Four, has made the very valid point that this has also potentially caused damage to complainants of sexual abuse because they will look at this and say, ‘well if I go to the guards with my statement, is this going to be on the front page of the Irish Independent next week?’.”

Finucane: “Yeah but I mean we, it is presumed but it is not proven that it came from the gardaí.”

McCarthy: “If you read the reports carefully, it’s quite clear that the information is not coming from the complainant. The expressions used like, ‘it is believed that she first made a statement..’. You know it’s clear the complainant is not talking to them and unfortunately I think this is very typical of a certain media attitude to child sexual abuse stories. It’s almost as if there was a point of fatigue reached and then it turned into a very sensationalist attitude and the consequence of that is that very serious questions about the whole issue are not being addressed. Like how to deal with convicted abusers? How to rehabilitate them into society? These questions are not being dealt with at all because, something which really is quite a voyeuristic, titillating and scurrilous piece of journalism is getting so much exposure.”

Later

Cormac Lucey: “I don’t think papers set out in the public interest, I think they’re commercial entities, under huge pressure, declining coverage and I think that gives rise to the question of whether, given what Noel has said about how this coverage may prevent any prosecution from ever happening whether some tightening up of the law is required…”

Finucane: “In which case, everyone a loser, in which case, everyone a loser…”

Lucey: “Correct. But whether the existing sub judice rules need to be expanded somewhat to protect the possibility of a trial in a story like this, to prevent newspapers…”

Talk over each other

Noel Whelan: “…of not reporting that somebody was the subject of allegations of this type, until such point as they were brought before the District Court and the charges were brought before them.”

McCarthy: “Cormac, you’re a colleague of mine but I’m just, I think that is really unfair that remark you made. Journalists produce newspapers, journalists write stories, journalists become editors and they make the selections and I think to ascribe their motivations as being commercial, making commercial decisions is really unfair.”

Finucane: “But they are under pressure for circulation.”

McCarthy: “To say that to create a public interest motive is in general, in general practice…”

Lucey: “When I get up I do not start, ‘what is in the public interest?’.  I think, what do people want to read? How can I write something that will be insightful…”

McCarthy: “You’re writing about something that is in the news generally. We’re talking about the selection of news stories and public interest is, it is a litmus test that’s used by good journalists and by good editors. That’s why this story is so particularly egregious.”

Lucey: “The law does not need to be changed for good editors and good journalists. The law needs to cover all editors and all journalists. And there’s a real danger, as Noel has described here that neither somebody who has been accused or somebody who has made an accusation will get their day in court and will be able to get some kind of closure.”

McCarthy: “This rebounds on every journalist, whether you work for the Independent group or not because it chips away at our credibility and at what we  do for a living. Now the Irish Independent ran an editorial trying to justify, not just justify the story, but try to make out it was now the victim of what was called, shoot the messenger response, and there is no way that this story was in the public interest.
The motivation for this story was the fact that there was a well-known person involved. It was not about child sexual abuse. There are plenty of stories about child sexual abuse where the system has broken down, where the victims have not had their rights to justice vindicated that could be covered by the paper but they were not sexy stories. And those stories are not being covered and that is one of the biggest, most serious consequences of this kind of journalism.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: ‘Mr Carey Does Not Know If The Allegations Relate To Him’