Tag Archives: irish times

From top: Professor Oran Doyle (above) and the Irish Times yesterday

“I assure the Deputy and other colleagues that with regard to penalties, religious services are non-penal in that there is no penalty attached to them.”

Minister for Health Stepehen Donnelly in the Dáil on Thursday, October 22, 2020

‘A priest in a Co Cavan parish says he has no intention of paying a €500 fine imposed on him for saying Mass publicly and he intends continuing to do so despite the ban on public worship under pandemic restrictions.

Cavan priest vows to continue saying Mass despite fine, Irish Times, March 24


Yesterday, during a podcast hosted by the COVID-19 Law and Human Rights Observatory, Oran Doyle, a professor in law at Trinity College Dublin asked:

“Why is The Irish Times, after the Minister for Health has confirmed in the Dail that religious services are not prohibited, happily reporting stories about priests being prosecuted for holding religious services, or threatened with prosecution for holding religious services?

“Do journalists not like, do they have the attention span of a goldfish that they can’t remember that somebody writing on exactly the same issue they were researching has just two weeks ago published an unequivocal Government statement that this is legally compliant, that they might put in a cross-reference in their article? No.

…”why aren’t there clarificatory statements from the Minister for Health to The Irish Times, ‘Editor, you have reported that, I just want to clarify this is not permitted’.  Why is a message not being sent from the Minister for Justice to the Garda Commissioner? ‘We see reports of police threatening prosecution for thing that are not prohibited and it’s Government policy not to prohibit them legally. Please clarify to all gardai that these matters are not prohibited.’ But there’s no evidence of that having taken place.

“…I think it’s, frankly, it’s outrageous.”

Listen to podcast here

Yesterday: Take Me To Mass

Previously: Mass Delusion


This morning.

From top: The Irish Times, February 15, 2021; Luke Brennan

‘Bill Gates: “I’m not trying to take anything away from Greta Thunberg, but…”’

Can you spot the difference between the above, and this, speaking about Greta Thunberg…

“I’m not trying to take anything away from her. And every movement needs iconic leaders who speak, and that’s a pretty good thing. But there’s probably some teenager who believes that the Rohingya should be treated better, and another who thinks we’re not investing enough in good education. So the world has sought her out to speak in this clear, almost innocent way about a cause that we’re trying to orchestrate our energy around, and say, hey, can we maintain this and convince people to make sacrifices? And how big do these sacrifices need to be? So I’m glad: you can’t have a movement without high-visibility figures. I hope she’s not messing up her education. She seems very clever.”

The first quote is an Irish Times headline, leading to an article, which contains the text below it. The article was first published in The Guardian on February 15, then reprinted under the above headline in the IT on February 16. Nothing unusual in that, much of The Irish Times content these days is articles reprinted from The Guardian, The New York Times, Financial Times, etc.

The article went straight into the Irish Times “most read” articles category, staying there for four days. It even made a second appearance last week, I was surprised to see a three-week old article finding such readership, but it really is quite a headline.

What surprises me more, is the difference between the implication of the headline and the text to which it refers.

My (basic) understanding of grammar would lead me to believe that what they should say is “Bill Gates: ‘I’m not trying to take anything away from Greta Thunberg…but’”. In that the ‘but’ does not appear in the same sentence, or the following sentence, but the one after it.

That is some serious ‘but’ searching they have carried out. Based on their example, you could take any book with the word ‘but’ in it, then quote from it, taking any statement you wish then add ’,but…’ to create a headline quote.

It’s not as if they don’t have a roster of international standard journalists, a room full of editors and more grammar junkies than would comfortably exist in a room together. I am imagining grammar pedantry is not off the menu. I’m guessing that when something is incorrect, everyone is very aware.

But what exactly happens when they review the most popular stories each week and see that this ‘truth gap’ is clearly present. Do they argue that it should be corrected? Does everybody look at their shoes? Is it squeaky bum time?

And what happens when the same article appears again three weeks later? Do they say “That headline is unbelievable”. Or is it like a fart at an executive meeting which is best ignored? It must be difficult to ignore. But it brings me back to a question they must ask…‘Is this true?’.

It is a noble act to wind the clock over in D’Olier street and I do not mean to diminish it. But it must be remembered that they are not manufacturing truth, merely endeavouring to present an accurate representation of it.

You might say, “Who is harmed?” But I would say that more people see a headline than read the article. Bill Gates? I’m sure he cares little, but It would be disappointing to him to be misrepresented in this way.

Greta Thunberg? Thick skinned, but I’m sure it get a little tiresome the way newspapers use her name and image as a way to ‘trigger’ all those that feel they don’t need to be lectured by a teenager about the world. Bill Gates does a good job of showcasing the good reasons for her deserved world profile in the article, the headline implies he’s taking her down.

I presented a similar situation here on Broadsheet two months back, where a similar disconnect existed between a headline and article in The Guardian. The headline in that instance, “They said I wasn’t hot enough: Carey Mulligan hits out again at Magazine review”. My issue with that? They removed the word ‘basically’ from between wasn’t and hot.

Within 24 hours of that article, it was aped (the killer headline, rather than the article) by Donald Clarke at the Irish Times, with the headline “Not hot enough: Why has Variety apologised to Carey Mulligan?”

I know that Donald Clarke, a fine journalist, is not to blame for this, his phone probably rings to ask him if he has his copy to file at 4pm. He admits he has not and then, I imagine,  is told in no uncertain terms to “deliver 2000 words by 5pm and make it clicky!” He says, “Yes boss.”, the result is the above article.

So, both article titles leave out the ‘basically’ but there was another gift in this, as another Broadsheet reader pointed out to me that what Carey Mulligan actually said was “It felt like it was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse.”  (my italics)

Now the “It felt” in there, which I was not initially aware of, is significant for me. Not in terms of what Carey says, but in terms of the bigger picture of the article, why the truth of it was important to me.

For me, life has two realities, how it is, and how it feels.

It is something that I’ve often had to remind myself of in tough times, that things might feel a certain way, but that may not be how things ‘are’. I think that is something fundamental to our human perspective. Often it is an obstacle we must overcome to resolve a problem.

Back in my days as a laboratory assistant, when we wanted to measure the make-up of a sample (Science has a more effective set of rules for discovering the truth of a situation) there was a process of calibration any machine would go through before it would start measuring.

This is the purpose of truth. We use the truth to calibrate our emotions, it allows us to see the difference between how it is and how it feels. I think it is an Irish thing, this emotional streak. We like to live close to our skin.

That may seem to go a bit deep for an analysis of newspaper headlines. We know why they do it, newspapers are scared senseless of becoming irrelevant in the Internet age. It is the high stature I hold the Irish Times in that makes me feel their version of the truth should be held to high account.

But what use is the clock on D’Olier street, if it is not accurate?

‘Just before our love got lost you said
“I am as constant as a northern star”
And I said, “Constantly in the darkness
Where’s that at?’

Joni Mitchell

We need truth, constancy and accuracy to accurately know things. With enough hands, you can carry the sundial of truth around your garden to change the perceived hour. You may look silly today; but you will render it useless tomorrow.

As Joni says, we need constancy, without it, we’re in the dark.

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

This afternoon.

Dáil Eireann at the Convention Centre.

“We have an arm of the government practically going out to Dublin Airport to burn witches live on air. I’m talking about RTÉ. It’s an absolute disgrace. It is oppressive and it is driving anxiety in this state what RTÉ is doing.

“There are massive problems with free media in Ireland.The Irish Times have their hand out looking for money from the government. God Knows they’re entitled to it, they’ve been doing your bidding for a year.

“But where is the free media to come from if the only source – I’m not talking about all media –  but the primary source of income is the Department of Health, is the government?

“Of course they [RTE, Irish Times] are doing the government’s bidding, of course they’re driving the narrative, of course they are attacking people who question what is going on.

“It is oppressive and it is damaging the fabric of our society.”

Independent TD for Clare Michael McNamara


Earlier: Wish You Were Here

Too Big To Fold


This morning.

Via The Irish Times:

The Irish Times Group has called for the introduction of State financial supports for journalism, news publishers’ technology investments and the home delivery of newspapers.

In its submission to the Future of Media Commission, the company said public funding should be available for specific public service roles, such as court reporters, as well as training schemes and internships for early-career journalists. It cited the Child Care Law Reporting Project, which is funded by the Department of Justice, as an example “worthy of exploration”.

The State can help Irish news media survive the existential threats facing the sector in a manner that protects editorial autonomy and does not trespass on the independence of a free press, it suggested.

…Despite progress across news titles on digital subscription revenues and voluntary donation models, there is “no escaping the reality” of the impact of the shift to digital on news publishing, it added.


The Irish Times Group calls for State financial support for journalism (Irish Times)

Kevin Gildeas Brilliant Bookshop, Dun Laogahire, County Dublin

This morning.

Via Irish Times Letters:

In response to Frank McNally’s mention (An Irishman’s Diary, December 5th) of the mini-furore regarding the lack of an apostrophe in the sign above my shop – Kevin Gildeas Brilliant Bookshop – I would like to point out that it is a matter of choosing aesthetics over grammar. An apostrophe would destroy the line of the words.

The shop will be open, to grammarians and others, from tomorrow, December 10th. A 46A (yes, you can get that bus there) will take you to Lower George’s Street, Dún Laoghaire. –

Yours, etc,

Kevin Gildea,
Kevin Gildeas Brilliant Bookshop
Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin


Possessive Attitude (Irish Times Letters)

Apropos of Apostrophes – Frank McNally on the rise and fall of a controversial punctuation mark (Frank McNally, Irish Times, December 5)

This morning.

Fintan O’Toole repeats what many have been saying since March.

Only the words are bigger.

Fintan O’Toole: Absence of Covid defences at Dublin Airport is startling (Irish Times)