There are many questions arising out of Tuesday evening’s BBC Spotlight expose of the Mairia Cahill scandal, especially concerning the alleged IRA/Sinn Fein/PSNI cover up of her rape by an IRA member in West Belfast when Mairia was just sixteen years old. (The programme can be watched in the US on the BBC iPlayer via Hola.org)
But one immediate concern is this. The programme was extensively flagged in other media over last weekend and, following broadcast, the issues it raises have been the subject of not inconsiderable debate in the wider media. The BBC has for example, in this report, zeroed in on one troubling question, viz the role played by Gerry Adams. Neither RTE nor the Irish Times can claim ignorance about the programme, yet as of 4.15 pm EDT on Wednesday, not a word has appeared on either’s website.
One would think that the embroiling of a major political leader in the Republic, for the second time in four years, in a sexual abuse scandal involving a minor and allegations of a cover up might be of interest to the island’s premier media outlets. All the more so since the opinion polls suggest that Mr Adams may well be leading his party into government within a year or so and that he himself may become Tanaiste in that government.
For the Irish Times and RTE to continue a silence about this affair serves only to foster suspicions either that they have as media organisations been co-opted by Sinn Fein or they are so afraid of being implicitly tarred with the anti-peace process brush they so liberally applied to those involved in the Boston College archive affair that they will not raise any issue that causes discomfort to the leadership of that party.
Either way they have ceased in their primary function of informing their audiences about matters of genuine public concern. Shame on them both!
p.s. Needless to say Niall O’Dowd’s IrishCentral.com site, normally attuned to every quiver and tremble involving Sinn Fein has also managed to ignore the story today.
p.p.s. A colleague has been in touch to make this valid point: if a scandal like this involved the Catholic Church and touched damagingly on one of its leading figures, say a bishop or archbishop, both RTE and the Irish Times would have been all over the story by now. Surely, someone will ask these two outlets to explain their double standards. Or is that a silly question?
p.p.p.s. You won’t believe this but someone has just told me about this story which was put on the RTE website earlier this evening. You couldn’t make it up!
UPDATE – The Irish Times posted a story, under Gerry Moriarty’s byline at 1.00 a.m. GMT on the paper’s website, an unusually late time to file a story that had been available since late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning. At 2.42 a.m. GMT a search of RTE’s website failed to turn up any story referencing Mairia Cahill.