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NUJ welcomes investigation into Communicorp Ban

17 November 2019

The Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has told the NUJ that union's concerns over the operation of an outright ban on journalists employed by the Irish Times and The Currency will be examined by the Authority's compliance committee as part of an investigation in to the issue.

Speaking at the NUJ delegate conference in Dublin on Saturday 16 November Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary said management interference in decision making, which was the rightful responsibility of editors and journalists, was the consequences of a merger which should never have been sanctioned. He told delegates: 

"I want to take this opportunity to strongly condemn the ongoing ban by Communicorp on staff interviewing journalists associated with The Irish Times and with Tom Lyons, Ian Keogh and those who work for the Currency. I would prefer if Today FM and Newstalk employed freelance journalists as commentators and contributors but there is always a place for guests from media companies on radio and television stations. It should be for producers and presenters not commercial managers to decide who is invited on air and the blanket Communicorp ban is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by the BAI.
"The NUJ has formally complained to the BAI and I can confirm that our concerns are being considered by the Compliance committee of the Authority. In matters relating to Communicorp the BAI has been found sadly wanting and I am worried that this investigation may ignore the blindingly obvious interference in editorial matters by commercial managers. The Authority must look again at the editorial structures within this company."

Opening the union's conference Séamus Dooley also warned about the rise of intolerance towards migrants in Ireland. He said:

"Defending journalism is our mission. It is the reason why we exist. We are the National Union of Journalists and in defending journalists we serve not just the interest of our members – though I make no apologies for doing so, but also the public interest. It is our function to speak truth to power, to challenge those in authority and to protect the most vulnerable.

"Journalism is under attack in the UK and in the United States. I am proud of the way in which day in, day out, our union has stood up against those who seek to thwart journalists as we go about our daily business.

"Under the enormous shadow cast by Johnston and Trump and with the rise of rightwing groups across Europe it is vital that we continue to fight for freedom of expression, for freedom of information, for access to government records, for an end to secrecy in public administration, for the right to do our job without harassment, fear or intimidation.

"We in Ireland cannot be complacent. The minority voices who target migrants and sully the name of asylum seekers have a vision which is not the vision of the National Union of Journalists. Those who advocate an Ireland for the Irish, a closing of minds and borders are adept at using social media to attack the most vulnerable and to promote their reactionary agenda.

"As journalists we have a duty to report accurately and comprehensively the activities of these group. What we saw in Achill recently, when a Fianna Fáil councillor forced a freelance video journalist to leave a meeting about the proposed opening of a direct provision centre, is a sharp reminder of why independent journalism is important.

"Those who shouted 'out, out, out' were well aware of the power of journalism. We have a duty to report these incidents, however nasty they may be. Ignoring or censoring comments is not the answer - we must shine a light on the unpalatable truth."

Tags: , asylumn seekers, migration, far right, merger, media companies, media freedom, broadcasting authority of ireland, ireland, irish times, the currency, communicorp