Media ‘cover-up’ on penalty points as journalist is booted
Media ‘cover-up’ on penalty points as journalist is booted


A story about the sacking of an Irish journalist has led to the mainstream Irish media being accused of a ‘blatant cover up’.

Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty was made redundant in the weeks following her investigation last April of Ireland’s top police chief, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, over the mysterious quashing of motoring offences from his driving licence.

It also emerged (in the London-based Irish Post) that penalty points had also been erased for a car registered to the editor-in-chief of the same newspaper, Stephen Rae.

The breaking of Ms O’Doherty’s story followed a scandal over claims that powerful members of Irish society have been able to avoid penalties through questionable contacts with senior Gardai.

Two whistle-blowers reported on the 189 complaints of quashing of penalty points. An inquiry subsequently set up by Callinan found that ‘no corruption’ had taken place but that some Gardai were ‘excessive’ in their use of power in wiping the points.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter also denied any wrongdoing, insisting that appropriate “discretion” was used in most cases. And Ms O’Doherty soon was handed a compulsory redundancy.

Both controversies -- that of Callinan and Rae -- have been ignored by the mainstream media in Ireland -- a decision which prompted veteran British journalist Roy Greenslade to protest recently.

He commented: “The only people who can properly hold the media to account are the media. And if you fail to do that, then you are failing the people.”

Writing in his Guardian column, Mr Greenslade said: “The media exist to hold power to account. Given that the Indo is owned by the largest and most powerful media company in the Republic, Independent News and Media, it should be scrutinised by its rivals.

“Journalists should police each other or the public they serve will think there is some kind of special treatment for the media elite. (The British phone-hacking saga was a case in point).

“The absence of coverage in Ireland of the Rae story implies a cover-up.”

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