Independent News and Media – Censorship and Sacking

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Denis O’Brien – True to the Tradition of William Martin Murphy

By Jacob Richards

The Irish media strive on the failings of others but when it comes to critiquing itself it falls way below par. This is clearly evident in its failure to highlight the case of former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’ Doherty. The sad truth is that few will be aware of the case of Miss O’ Doherty given the practically non exposure she has received in Ireland. Besides a small piece in a recent edition of Phoenix magazine, it has taken the English Guardian to shed any public light on the scandalous termination of her employment with the Irish independent.

Gemma O’ Doherty was a chief feature writer and investigative journalist at the Irish Independent. In recent years she has been a leading investigative reporter on cases such as that of Father Molloy, purported by some to be the single largest cover-up in the history of the Irish state. The case in question involved the murder of Father Niall Molloy at the home of Therese and Richard Flynn in Clara, Co Offaly in 1985. The resulting investigation and trial was dogged by controversy over the choice of trial judge who was personally well known to the defendant, and the handling and findings of evidence. It was O Doherty’s work of recent years which began to mount evidence suggesting collusion and cover-up in the Molloy case between the Gardai, the state and the Catholic church.

In April, this year she called to the home of the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, to discuss the fact that he had had penalty points wiped off his record. He was not a t home, but within an hour she was contacted by her bosses.  She was reprimanded almost immediately for doing so while her story was heavily diluted when going to final print. Within weeks she was informed of her compulsory redundancy – the only one of which took place during the companies so called “restructuring”.

In response the National Union of Journalists has denounced the move by Independent News and Media and said that it is a case of unfair dismissal. The reality is that Miss Doherty’s dismissal represents much more. It is a case whereby a signal of warning has been given to those that dare to probe and rock the boat of collusion, abuse and cosy relationships. Unfortunately such a response seems only too familiar. When the forces that be, feel a threat to the status quo, no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of punishing the individuals responsible. The most obvious cases of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning come to mind.

This whole affair is a sad indictment of the state of the Irish Media. When an investigative reporter is reprimanded for asking hard questions there is clearly a serious problem at hand. We must ask ourselves some questions given the response of management at the Irish Independent. What is the extent of the relationship between senior Gardai and our national media given that such a scenario has occurred? The suggestion is one of inappropriateness and systemic cosiness given that few other Irish media organisations touched the story either. Ultimately our national media has hindered rather than helped the truth. Its subsequent treatment of Gemma O’ Doherty is an insult to the tenets of decent journalism. Anyone interested in justice, transparency and freedom of the press should add their voice to demand justice for Gemma O’ Doherty.