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.
The whole episode is yet another terrible indictment on the woman folk within SF, especially the mothers amongst them. Shame on them all for their inability or unwillingness to address the matter internally or externally.
Same old story, ignore it and maybe it will go away? The typical damage control team are lost for words!!! SF have made their deal, and powers to be are scheduled to make that puppet transfer within 18 months. US visit was prep for announcement. People in Kennedy’s circle have let that bag out!!
Ed, is it not the case that the Irish media was very critical of Martin McGuinness when he stood as an Irish presidential candidate
yes, but i would argue that a) since gerry adams’ arrest what you call criticism but i would call legitimate scrutiny of the SF leadership has diminished in the Irish media and often been replaced with quite positive coverage and, b) the probability/possibility of SF entering government, now greater than it was, has also contributed to this weakening by the media as it becomes clearer that reporters may soon be dealing with these people as gov’t ministers, a not unimportant consideration for RTE which is, after all, state-owned. the scrutiny of SF tends to wax and wane in the south but since the boston college arrests it has definitely changed to SF’s favour. i am working on a more rigorous analysis of this but it is going to take time. watch this space.
incidentally the attitude of RTE/Irish Times to this story is very reminiscent of their non-coverage of the Liam Adams story, especially the period right after it broke, when for weeks only suzanne breen investigated gerry adams’ flawed explanation for his dealings with his abusing brother. i think it tends to get a little more complicated when the issue is to do with the IRA, given that there is huge embedded opposition in southern society ranging from police to political parties and going back in time.
Ed, I’m not that sure SF will hold the reins of power in this country come the next election.
who knows, but at this time a lot of people, a lot of journalists, believe they will and that affects judgements….