Irish Journalist - March 2014

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Irish Journalist

MARCH 2014

Official newsletter for the NUJ in Ireland

McCALL SLAMS LEO’S FOI LOBBY PURPOSE OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION IS ENSURING ACCOUNTABILITY, PRESIDENT SAYS PRESIDENT Barry McCall has accused Transport Minister Leo Varadkar of failing to understand the principles behind Freedom of Information legislation. Mr Varadkar argued in internal discussions within the government that pay and pension details of individual office holders and top public servants should not be publicly revealed. Internal government files published by The Irish Times this month revealed that Mr Varadkar was concerned that the Freedom of Information Act as currently operated “violates the privacy of individuals”. Mr Varadkar suggested pay and pension details for office holders and senior public service staff were private matters and should only be made known on an anonymised basis. His comments were contained in official observations submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform by the Department of Transport as part of its internal consultation process in the run-up to the publication of proposed reforms to the legislation last summer. The Freedom of Information Bill IS currently awaiting report stage in the Dáil and is expected to be enacted in the first half of the year. Files released by the Department OF Public Expenditure and Reform reveal intense lobbying from departments, agencies and ministers to have particular areas under their jurisdiction removed from the scope of the new legislation. The submission from the Department of Transport said: “The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is not satisfied by the current

COIMISNÉIR TEANGA NUA NUJ member Rónán Ó Domhnaill has been appointed An Coimisinéir Teanga by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. On hand to witness the appointment were Ronan’s wife and fellow NUJ member Irene Ní Nualláin and their two children Róisin (2) and Maeve (1). Ronan, who recently resigned as political correspondent with Nuacht RTÉ/TG4, succeeds another NUJ member, Seán Ó Cuirreáin. See full report on page six. Photo: Maxwell. operation of the Freedom of Information Act. The Department of Transport said details of letters and representations made by the public to ministers which were considered to be privileged

“Minister Varadkar has failed to see the point - the central purpose of FOI legislation is to ensure that accountability, and removing such pay and pension deals from it would have represented a retrograde step on the part of the government.” if sent to the Oireachtas should also be considered to be privileged if sent to departmental offices. “Similarly, the remuneration and pension details of individual office holders and other senior public employees are private and should not be disclosed. The information can be given in an anonymised format as is the case for other public employees,” a statement said. “The fees should reflect both actual cost in administration time and also the opportunity cost of work not done in the time taken up in replying to Freedom of Information requests.” Commenting on the revelation Barry McCall called for a better understanding of FOI. “It appears Minister Varadkar has failed to see

the point in including senior office holders and public servants in the revised legislation. Individuals who may have had a direct hand in or even indirect influence over their pay and pension deals should not be able to hide behind the cloak of personal privacy when it comes to accountability for spending taxpayers’ money. “The central purpose of FOI legislation is to ensure that accountability, and removing such pay and pension deals from it would have represented a retrograde step on the part of the government,” the President said. Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said it was “extremely ironic that Mr Varadkar should seek to influence FOI legislation through behind the scenes lobbying.”




EASTBOURNE CALLING WAGES, EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS AND STRESS AT WORK ON THE AGENDA AS UNION GEARS UP FOR FIRST DELEGATE MEETING IN 18 MONTHS NUJ branch representatives are Eastbourne bound on 11 April for the union’s three-day delegate meeting. President Barry McCall will chair the conference, which will debate 189 motions dealing with every aspect of union activity and review progress made and the many challenges confronted over the past 18 months. The consequences of outsourcing on the media industry are highlighted in a motion tabled by Irish South West while the Irish Executive Council (IEC), supported by Dublin Freelance, focuses on the exploitative nature of JobBridge, following on from the motion adopted in November at the Irish Delegate Conference. The motion favours a policy of naming and shaming employers found to have abused Jobbridge guidelines and seeks a campaign of opposition to the scheme.

“With pensions a burning issue for so many members and their families, it is no surprise that the IEC has tabled a comprehensive motion calling on the government to establish a universal occupational pension scheme.” The IEC has also taken the lead on highlighting the implications of stress at work, calling on the NEC to conduct an online stress survey to provide data on work-related stress affecting members. With pensions a burning issue for so many members and their families, it is no surprise that the IEC has tabled a comprehensive motion calling on the government to establish a universal occupational pension scheme, with mandatory

contributions from employers, workers and the state. Belfast and District branch has tabled a motion highlighting the dire consequences for quality journalism of media organisations encouraging free input, a move also highlighted in motions from the NEC and Cardiff and South East Wales branch. The issue of trade union rights features in another IEC motion, yet again dealing with the failure of the Irish government to enact promised legislation granting freelancers the right to collective representation. This motion has been tabled against the backdrop of the ICTU decision to lodge a complaint at the International Labour Organisation, with the support of SIPTU and the NUJ. Once again, Belfast and District branch provide the lead with a motion highlighting the ongoing harassment of journalists working in Northern Ireland, a motion given renewed relevance with the recent threats to Irish News reporter Allison


Just 18 months after the last Delegate Meeting approved the union’s Recovery Plan our finances have been stabilised and we have met all the targets we set for ourselves at that time. It has to be acknowledged that much of the credit for those achievements goes to our staff who have had to work harder than ever before and have had a voluntary pay freeze for the past five years. But stability can be illusory. Our paying membership continues to decline as a result of savage job cuts in sectors such as regional and national newspapers and broadcasting. That will necessitate a small increase in subs to ensure we do not once again find ourselves in the throes of a financial crisis before the next DM in 2016. No one wants to pay more but we will not be able to continue to provide the same level and range of services without a subs increase. However, one of the main objections to subs increases is that the current system is inherently unfair. It is a sector based system which creates anomalies where members working for the same organisations and sometimes even in the same building pay different rates; and quite often the member earning more can be paying the lower rate.

DMs have recognised this problem for many years and instructed the NEC on a number of occasions to introduce a system of earnings-related subs. The NEC is therefore proposing a new system of earnings-related subscriptions, phased in over time. All members on the existing grades will be allowed to remain on them if they wish but new members will join on earnings-related grades. This will not mean a two tier system – members on Grades 1, 2 and 3 will pay subs at the same rates regardless of whether they are on the earnings or sector based system. The proposal also introduces a minimum rate of €11.50 per month for lower paid members. NEC also proposes to reform the rather complex way we define our membership categories to make them easier to understand. A further reform is the planned establishment of regional councils in England. The NEC has acknowledged the success of the Irish and Scottish Executive Councils, as well as those in Wales and Continental Europe, which bring union officers together to work on behalf of members. The motion proposed by NEC is flexible – it allows the union to set up new councils in regions where there is a proven need. At the last DM in Newcastle our focus was on resolving the problems created in the past. We now have an opportunity to plan for the future by supporting the NEC reform motions.

Morris at Belfast Crown Court. The branch has also tabled a motion highlighting the importance of the NUJ Code of Conduct through an awareness campaign. Threats to journalism also feature in a motion tabled by Derry and North West, which includes greetings to Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. The IEC has tabled a motion calling for publication by the Ethics Council of guidelines for journalists who find themselves challenged by state authorities to produce material gathered for journalistic purposes. The right of journalists to secure public information is highlighted in an IEC motion on the Freedom of Information Act 2013. A motion by the NUJ Equality Council calling for a union campaign in favour of amending the provisions of the Irish Constitution in relation to abortion have already generated controversy, as has a related motion from Derry and North West. The Equality Council motion instructs the NEC to “work with the Irish Executive Council, the Equality Council and interested members in the island of Ireland to discuss the best way to support the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment”. On the proposition of Barry McCall, the NEC at its January meeting agreed an amendment deleting this instruction but leaving the instructions in the original motion from the NEC “to provide material and support to members raising the issue of the right to choose within their branches” and to “provide support to members to remain impartial in the reporting of this [campaign for a referendum and referendum campaign] issue.” The NEC amendment was opposed by Republic of Ireland representative Emma O’Kelly and NI representative Bob Miller. The President said he was in favour of the union’s current pro-choice policy and the purpose of the amendment was to avoid union involvement in a referendum campaign. All motions and amendments are available on the NUJ website

ELECTION NEWS At the first meeting of the newly constituted IEC, the following were elected to the General Purposes Committee, effectively the management committee of the council: Mary Curtin, Kieran Fagan, Ronan Brady, Jim Aughey, Bernie Ni Fhlatharta, Fran McNulty. The ex-officio members of all IEC sub committees are the IEC Cathaoirleach (Gerry Curran), Leas Cathaoirleach (Gerry Carson/Felicity McCall) and Treasurer (Martin Fitzpatrick), NEC members in the Republic of Ireland (currently Barry McCall and Emma O’Kelly/Paula Geraghty), the Irish Secretary and Irish Organiser. Emergency Committee: Mary Curtin, Fran McNulty, Anton McCabe and Siobhan Holliman; Freelance Industrial Council: Barry McCall; New Media Industrial Council: Phil Mac Giolla Bháin; Copyright Committee: Ronan Brady; Editor of Irish Journalist: Phil Mac Giolla Bháin.



Mary Maher, first woman elected MoC of The Irish Times chapel speaking at the IFJ 1913 celebration, “Sisters in Union” in Dublin last June. Pic: Maxwell.

WHAT'S MARCH 8TH GOT TO DO WITH WOMEN ANYHOW? MARY MAHER REFLECTS ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY AND WONDERS IF THE MESSAGE IS BEING OVERLOOKED. “WELL?” you may ask, given the nattering exchanges on social media and colour supplements as to who got flowers and breakfast in bed—and who didn’t even get a hand with the washing up – and the positive, if predictable, replies from women surveyed as to their aims and wishes on International Women’s Day. One of them even had the grace to wonder politely why men couldn’t have a nice international day too. Somewhere in the recent past, March 8th has slipped into a cross between Mother’s Day and girls night out, a gender-based festival that the fellows might deserve too. Surprisingly, the greeting card industry doesn’t seem to have caught on to this, but before another year goes there is time to remind everyone: International Women’s Day is a political anniversary, saluting a tough history of women’s struggles, protests and victories, first and foremost in the workplace. In Liberty Hall this year, NUJ members were at the fore in celebrating the spirit of Rosie Hackett in one of the few events which captured the essence of the original International Women’s Day. The theme of women marshalling their forces for political purpose has deep roots. In Lysistrata, a play written by Aristophanes in 411 BC, the heroine persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual favours until the men agree to negotiate peace. Centuries later, the women of Paris called for "liberty, equality, fraternity" as

“Somewhere in the recent past, March 8th has slipped into a cross between Mother’s Day and girls night out, a genderbased festival that the fellows might deserve too.” they marched on Versailles to demand women's suffrage. But the idea of setting aside one day to mark women’s contribution to society as workers only arose in the early 1900s, a period of growing

radicalism in the newly industrialised western world. In the United States, the Socialist Party of America declared a National Woman's Day on February 28th, 1909. The following year the Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, also agreed that an International Women's Day should be established. By 1911, the day was celebrated on March 19th in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies demanding the right to work, to

“In Liberty Hall this year, NUJ members were at the fore in celebrating the spirit of Rosie Hackett in one of the few events which captured the essence of the original International Women’s Day. ” vocational training and to end discrimination in jobs. But the event that concentrated world attention on the terrible conditions women were forced to work in took place less than a week later. On March 25th 1911, a fire broke out in the Triangle Garment Factory in New York City. More than 140 working women and girls, mostly Italian and Jewish immigrants, were trapped on the top floors with no means of escape. Those who didn’t die in the fire died leaping from the windows to escape it. The tragedy had a significant impact on labour

legislation in the USA, and had its impact on women across the world. Two years later, with

“It remains a central organising principle of the work of the UN that no enduring solution to society's most threatening social, economic and political problems can be found without the full participation, and the full empowerment, of the world's women.” two million Russian soldiers killed at war, Russian women chose the last Sunday in February 1913 to strike for "bread and peace". Political leaders opposed the timing of the strike, but the women ignored them and went ahead. Four days into the strike, the Czar was forced to abdicate. The new provisional government granted women the right to vote. That historic Sunday fell on February 23rd on the Julian calendar -- then in use in Russia --- but on March 8th on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere. Since then, International Women's Day has been observed on that date, originally only by trade unions and left-wing political organisations. Over the years, the message spread. In 1945, the Charter of the United Nations was signed in San Francisco, the first international agreement to proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right. But it was the advent of the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s that brought March 8th to a wider world, and, slowly and steadily, farther away from its original meaning. It remains a central organising principle of the work of the UN that no enduring solution to society's most threatening social, economic and political problems can be found without the full participation, and the full empowerment, of the world's women. Flowers are fine, breakfast in bed terrific, but maybe next year we can salute the rights of working women on March 8th, and of course, the men who support their cause.





THIS IS AN ISSUE FOR MY UNION ANTHEA MCTEIRNAN SAYS MOTION IS CONSISTENT WITH EQUALITY AGENDA OF UNION MOTION 42 for DM is one of the most balanced, measured motions on abortion I have ever read. The National Union of Journalists has been given a clear message by the inaugural NUJ Ireland Women’s Conference and many of its members to stand up on this issue. Abortion is a healthcare issue to be decided on by individual women. It is not up for moral debate – here or anywhere. Equally, it is not an issue to ignore – here or anywhere. The right to choose and access abortion as part of a woman’s healthcare options is a basic right recognised by the United Nations - in fact, by the majority of nations. Abortion is a normal part of women’s lives. The worst thing about having an abortion is not the procedure, it is not being able to have that abortion where you want to have it, when you need to have it: in your own country, near your friends, near your own bed. Women in Ireland, some of them our union’s members, are telling the NUJ this. These women are the people experiencing unwanted pregnancies. These are the women boarding ferries and planes in their thousands each year to access legal medical services in our near neighbour. We should listen to these women, not turn away from

“Abortion is a normal part of women’s lives. The worst thing about having an abortion is not the procedure, it is not being able to have that abortion where you want to have it, when you need to have it: in your own country, near your friends, near your own bed.” them when they are asking to be heard. The presence of Article 8 in the Irish Constitution stands in the way of the vindication of the rights of Irish women. All women on the island of Ireland are denied access to abortion services, women in the North and in the South. This motion merely commits our union to discuss the best way to support the campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution. The motion expresses a commitment to women and a desire to listen and be part of the solution for women on the island of Ireland. The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 details the up-to-14 years of imprisonment that now awaits any woman’s endeavours to end a pregnancy by taking a pill readily available to her via the internet and legal in many jurisdictions. Another chilling effect of Article Eight of the Irish Constitution. Equating a woman with a fertilised ovum is reductive and strips from women in Ireland of the

right to be equal to men. Trade unions have always fought inequality. That is why many of us are members of this great movement. Trade unions have often stood up and taken stances that were actively opposed. The inspirational, effective opposition of the Dunnes Stores strikers and their union, Mandate, to the abomination that was Apartheid in South Africa was right. It was right then. It is right now. It was a political stance; don’t let anyone say otherwise. It was the right political stance to take. It is why unions are here. It is why they continue to be relevant. It is totally appropriate in 2014 for a union to take a stand to demand equal rights to healthcare for the men and women of Ireland. None of us should shy away from advocating equal rights for women. None of us should use the putative sensibilities of members who will never

“None of us should shy away from advocating equal rights for women. It would be wrong to stand in the way of the vindication of the rights of our sisters and of half the population of Ireland.” have to make such a choice as a barrier to the rights of our sisters. It would be wrong for anyone to stand in the way of the vindication of the rights of half the population of Ireland. Thirty years ago, Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution was enacted. It is time to repeal the Eighth Amendment and end the equating of the lives of women with an implanted embryo. It is time to stand up and be counted. History will be a harsh judge of those who stand in the way. Anthea McTeirnan is Equality Officer, NUJ chapel The Irish Times and is writing in a personal capacity.

MOTION 42 This DM congratulates the Irish Office for the successful, long-awaited inaugural women's conference in the Republic of Ireland. The conference was well attended and discussed many issues of concern to our female members there. One of the main issues raised by Irish members at the conference was around the issue of abortion and a woman's right to choose. The conference further noted that the current restrictions had contributed to the death of Savita Halappanavar, and was an issue currently under discussion with the Campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment in the Republic. This DM recognises the difficulties surrounding raising this issue, and the sensitivities involved, as well as the consequent problems facing members in raising this issue within the Republic and Northern Ireland, and within our branches there. Therefore, this DM would like to remind all branches that it is both NUJ and TUC policy to support a woman's right to choose, and that for many years have supported campaigns to stop any infringement on those rights within the UK. Furthermore, DM would also like to remind all of our journalists that it is especially important when dealing with such issues and in recognition of the sensitivities involved, to ensure fair and free reporting of all sides of the debate. This DM instructs the NEC to: 1. work with the Irish Executive Council, the Equality Council and interested members in the island of Ireland to discuss the best way to support the campaign to repeal the Eight Amendment 2. provide material and support to members raising the issue of the right to choose within their branches 3. provide support to members to remain impartial in the reporting of this issue. Equality Council Delete first bullet point National Executive Council Insert new fourth paragraph: “This DM notes however that any change to the Irish Constitution can only be brought about by a referendum of the people”. Renumber accordingly. Delete bullet points one and two Dublin Publication and PR MOTION 42(a) This DM congratulates the organisers of the inaugural women’s seminar in Ireland. The conference was well attended and discussed many issues of concern to women members in Ireland. NUJ members at the seminar raised the issue around women’s right to abortion services. The seminar noted that the restrictions had directly led to the death of Savita Halappanavar. This DM notes that the NUJ union has a policy that is prochoice, supporting the woman’s right to choose on reproductive issues. This means that women have the right to decide for themselves what happens to their own bodies. It notes that this is not the case for women living in Ireland – North or South. Therefore, this DM instructs the NEC to: 1. Actively support any campaign to repeal the Eight Amendment in the Republic of Ireland. 2. Actively support any campaign to have British abortion legislation extended to Northern Ireland. 3. Support members to remain impartial in reporting of the issue through the code of conduct Derry and North West





NUJ SHOULD AVOID TAKING POLL POSITION GERRY CURRAN SAYS MOTIONS BREAK TRADITION OF IMPARTIALITY IN POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS WHEN NUJ members gather in conference in Eastbourne next month they will debate a range of motions directly related to the future of our union and the profession of journalism. They will also debate a motion from the union's Equality Council committing the NUJ to a direct political role in securing repeal of the Constitutional provisions in relation to abortion in Ireland. As a, by now, veteran of such conferences, not for the first time I find myself intervening to urge caution concerning a motion framed with undoubtedly good intention, but capable of dividing the NUJ at a time when unity is of paramount importance. Many NUJ members have already voiced their concerns about the Equality Council motion and a related motion from Derry and North West branch, and there is still time to ensure your views are made known to delegates. I probably fit the stereotype of those who imagine a media world infested by card carrying liberals intent on securing reproductive rights for women, marriage equality for all and the elimination of social injustice at every level in Irish society. Well guilty as charged - and gay for good measure - but I believe with equal passion that the NUJ should not take a political position in relation to any referendum - in Ireland as much as in Scotland.Abortion, gay marriage, European stability mechanisms, abolition of the Seanad, the creation of a Court of Appeal, the future of the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, are all currently, or have been, or will be, the subject of constitutional debate and referendum in the Republic of Ireland. In that regard I have always been informed and challenged by the wonderful, perceptive, insightful and broad views and reportage in the Irish media. Long may it remain so. I share with many in the National Union of Journalists a great support for many of the changes and rights which these referenda envisage, and have been opponents of others. Those involved in active and meaningful social inclusion work, in trade union work, in the march of progressive thought and action, could not fail to take sides on such issues of huge importance.

“It remains for all journalists to remain objective in their approach to reporting on these issues. Strong views and advocacy are for opinion columns, editorials and out of work activity.” Yet it remains for all journalists, now and into the future, to remain objective in their approach to reporting on these issues - especially at times of legislative and constitutional change - it is embedded in our rules and regulations as a union that we all do so. Strong views and advocacy are for opinion columns, editorials and out of work activity. For it to be otherwise would mean the strength of journalism itself - the ability to report and influence through the observation of events and presentation of fact - would be damaged and weakened. How could any of our members challenge a member of the pro-life movement if they could lash back - ‘but you would say that, your union is campaigning for abortion freedoms’? Equally, the issue of marriage equality will hardly be added to by the NUJ diluting its journalistic objectivity, and exposing its members to similar accusations of bias by the Iona Institute. In a personal capacity I will be doing my part for furthering the marriage equality issue and the passing of a referendum to offer the opportunity, or horror, of marriage to all. Yet I will not ask my union to incapacitate members’ reporting ability by coming out and campaigning on the referendum when it happens. Likewise - despite my own interest in the same - I did not ask the NUJ to take a stance to increase access to justice by supporting the creation of the Court of Appeal. I did not ask the NUJ to oppose the abolition of the Seanad, despite my belief we are better off with it in existence. To do so would have devalued the currency of our perceived and actual professional objectivity. For the first time in the union’s century old tradition of objectivity on party political, constitutional and referendum changes, we are being asked to abandon non-involvement in nonunion specific political action. I know the issue of the right to choose is very important to many members. I believe the idea of us campaigning on this issue and other political issues comes from a true belief from most that this should exercise us all; from a naivety in others as to the effects this could have on the union; and from a couldn’t care less attitude from a few - who see the union as nothing but a vehicle or host towards advancing some dubiously better world order. The NUJ needs to remember what it is we are here for - what the members join for, remain for,

and pay their subs for; that is to represent professional, industrial relations, legal and workplace needs - to further the agenda of equality, decent wages, proper health and safety, fair-play in the workplace, and hopefully outwards to greater society. The NUJ is not a host for any specific, single issue political campaigns, for any political party or caucus, for any ‘fraction’ to impose upon us to fight their special issue.

“The NUJ is not a host for any specific, single issue political campaigns, for any political party or caucus, for any ‘fraction’ to impose upon us to fight their special issue.” Issues the union should take sides on are; changes to industrial relations law and communications regulation, freedom of expression/information, freedom of the press, health and safety laws, maternity and paternity leave, etc. To do so is the rationale of why we exist. In tabling a motion regarding a referenda campaign in Ireland on abortion, the Equality Council, with no input from Irish members or from the IEC, has sought to re-open a debate which threatened to split the NUJ in the past. Opinions have changed over the years on the right to choose but working journalists still want a union capable of adopting nuanced positions on social policy which do not demand forays into referendum campaigns. Gerry Curran is Cathaoirleach of the IEC and is writing in a personal capacity.



RÓNÁN Ó DOMHNAILL APPOINTED AN COIMISINÉIR TEANGA Ó DOMHNAILLl SUCCEEDS FELLOW NUJ MEMBER SEÁN Ó CUIRREÁIN IN THE ROLE NUJ member Rónán Ó Domhnaill has been appointed as An Coimisinéir Teanga, succeeding fellow union member and Irish language journalist Seán Ó Cuirreáin. Rónán Ó Domhnaill (38) is from An Cheathrú Rua in the Connemara Gaeltacht and spent seven years as political correspondent with Nuacht RTÉ/TG4 and as a member of RTÉ's political unit before being nominated as An Coimisinéir Teanga last month. Mr Ó Domhnaill said that it was an honour and a privilege to be appointed as the country’s second ever Coimisinéir Teanga, effectively the Irish language Ombudsman. Commenting on his appointment Rónán said: "I'm delighted today to be appointed as An Coimisinéir Teanga and I am looking forward to taking up this important role. "I intend to protect the linguistic rights of Irish speakers without fear or favour, and to fulfil my legislative responsibilities with vigour

“I strongly believe that these are challenges that are worth facing in the interests of the Irish language and the people of Ireland.” and enthusiasm. “I am under no illusions about the challenges that lie before me and the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga over the coming years, but I strongly believe that these are challenges that are worth facing in the interests of the Irish language, the Irish language speaking community and the people of Ireland.” He paid special tribute to his predecessor, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, who resigned in protest at lack of government support for the office. “Ba chúis uchtaigh agus mhisnigh dom an chabhair a chuir Seán Ó Cuirreáin ar fáil dom ó

REMEMBERING OUTSOURCING FIRM CUTS JOBS ROSALINE DOZENS of journalists at RE&D’s Dublin office will continue to be represented by the union as the company’s operations in the capital wind down ahead of closure in July. Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley and Assistant Organiser Ian McGuinness met RE&D’s owner, Terry Kavanagh, in Belfast after it was announced Dublin operations were being wound up with approximately 50 posts being made redundant. During the meeting, commitments were given to the NUJ regarding employment status and payments to be made to staff. The Dublin office is closing because Independent News and Media (INM) decided not to renew its contract with the sub-editing

FOR many years Rosaline Kelly was an integral part of NUJ annual delegate meetings – as branch delegate, NEC member, President and a formidable member of the Standing Orders Committee. For generations of NUJ members, Rosaline will always be associated with fundraising for the NUJ charities. The ADM raffle was close to her heart and following her death last year a group of friends decided the best way to remember Rosaline was with a fundraising raffle at DM2014 in Eastbourne, in aid of NUJ Extra. On Friday 11 April at 8pm, Irish branches will salute the memory Rosaline and another Irish-born President, Kyran Connolly, both of whom died last

“The further elimination of sub-editing has caused concern about editorial quality.”

“For generations of NUJ members, Rosaline will always be associated with fundraising for the NUJ charities.”

company. RE&D was established on foot of the outsourcing of editorial production functions by INM. The NUJ is concerned that the work done by RE&D’s Dublin office will fall on journalists at INM titles and RE&D’s Belfast office. Meanwhile the NUJ chapel at Independent Newspapers is awaiting a presentation from management on the implications for staff of the new production system, which it is envisaged will see journalists writing to length and a strong reliance on design templates. The further elimination of sub-editing functions has caused concern about editorial quality, as well as the implications for workload.

year. We will also raise a glass to former President Mark Turnbull, long standing SOC member Dick Oliver and all members who died since our last delegate conference. It will be a night of merriment, as Rosaline would have wished. Already the Irish office has secured special prizes from our friends in Jury’s Inns and the Guinness Storehouse. Keep an eye on NUJ Active for updates. If you are a delegate come along to the event. Have a drink with good friends and enjoy good music for a good cause: NUJ Extra. Venue to be advised. If you are not attending send a donation via your branch delegate or the Irish office.

ainmníodh mé mar Choimisinéir Teanga agus gabhaim buíochas ó chroí leis as an tacaíocht spreagúil sin. “Gabhaim buíochas freisin le foireann Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga as an bhfáilte chroíúil a chuir siad romham.” Ghabh Rónán Ó Domhnaill buíochas freisin le hAire Stáit na Gaeltachta, an Teachta Dála Dinny McGinley, agus leis an Rialtas as ucht é a ainmniú mar Choimisinéir Teanga. Ghabh sé buíochas chomh maith leis an Dáil agus an Seanad as glacadh leis an ainmniúchán sin d'aon ghuth agus leis an Uachtarán as é a cheapadh go hoifigiúil tráthnóna in Áras an Uachtaráin. Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary said the appointment of two RTÉ Irish language journalists in succession showed the pivotal role of Irish language journalists in promoting Irish as a living language. It also emphasised the importance of public service broadcasting.

NEWS IN BRIEF CHANGES AT INDO CHAPEL CLODAGH Sheehy has joined Daniel McConnell as job share FoC/MoC at the Independent Newspapers chapel. He replaces political correspondent Fiach Kelly, who has joined The Irish Times. Clodagh has hit the ground running and the chapel officers have been diligently monitoring changes throughout the titles.

BAI POST FOR MARTIN FORMER NEC member Seamus Martin had been appointed to the board of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. He replaces John Waters, who has resigned. Seamus is a former officer of Dublin branch and had a long track record as an NUJ activist.

DEATH NOTICES The recent death of Joan Tighe (91) evoked warm tributes from the world of fashion. Joan, a life member of the NUJ, was credited by international fashion designer Paul Costelloe with giving him his first break. She began her career with Tatler and Sketch before joining the Evening a Herald in 1966, where she served as Woman's Page Editor. She is remembered as a generous colleague with a sharp sense of humour. Joan also served as literary editor of the Old Dublin Society. Liam O Cuanaigh was an award-winning Irish Press photographer and features writer who left journalism to concentrate on working with A.L.O.N.E, the charity founded by former fireman Willie Bermingham. Liam was unusual in moving from photography into feature writing and his influential series Dublin Behind Closed Doors reflected his strong social commitment.



WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE THE LACK OF A DEDICATED WEEKLY PAPER AND RISK OF LOSING IRISH LANGUAGE JOURNALISM MUST BE ADDRESSED By Anton McCabe IRISH language journalism is facing serious difficulties, with there being no stand-alone national Irish language weekly paper. Three newspapers have been closed over the past half-dozen years after Foras na Gaeilge (the cross-border Irish language body) withdrew funding. The Foras is currently examining applications for the contract for an Irish language weekly online newspaper. All material is to be available free. According to application documents, it must be “primarily based on written reporting and written comment”, and provide both national and regional news. This contract would last for four years. The successful publisher will receive €300,000 per year. Between 2008 and 2013, the Foras ended the contracts of three newspapers. First to go in 2008 was the daily Lá Nua, published by the Belfast Media Group. The publishers proposed that it made economic sense to make it available free online, rather than distributed as a paid-for title through shops. The Foras rejected this. “If the plan to publish Lá Nua online is proceeded with, this equates to breaking the contract with Foras na Gaeilge, and if the contract is broken Foras na Gaeilge will not be able to continue with the agreed funding,” Foras Chief Executive Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh said at the time. Connemara-based Foinse was a casualty the following year. In 1996 it won the tender to provide a weekly newspaper. It achieved significant name recognition, and was recognised as providing high-quality journalism. At one stage it sold 4,000 copies per week. However, it ceased publication for a time in 2009 in a funding dispute with the Foras. Foinse applied to extend its contract for a further four-year term. However, this was awarded to Gaelscéal, a joint venture between the Connacht Tribune and Eo Teilifís. The Gaelscéal bid had proposed a target of 6,000 weekly sales within three years. This sales target was clearly unrealisable: Foinse, despite building up name recognition, had not achieved this in more prosperous economic times. An added obstacle to the sales target was that, as a condition of the contract, Gaelscéal was to make the paper available online free of charge three days after publication. When awarding the contract in 2009, Mac an Fhailigh said the standard of applications was very high. “We are pleased to offer the contract to Torann na dTonn Limited, a joint venture between the

Connacht Tribune and Eo Teilifís, who have years of experience in the Irish media,” he said. At the start of last year, the Foras withdrew the contract from Gaelscéal on the basis that the sales target had not been met. It would be fair to say that Gaelscéal had not been to everyone’s taste, with an emphasis on hard news. There was an undercurrent of criticism from some in the Irish language community who saw aspects

“Trade unionists must be concerned about the number of journalists’ jobs lost. There must also be wider societal concerns media is important for any language or culture to develop.” of its coverage as too controversial. The Foras subsequently launched a period of public consultation regarding future publications. In further moves at the end of June, the Foras decided to end funding for monthly magazines Feasta and an tUltach, and news and information website Gaelport. These closures leave Irish as one of the few significant European minority languages without a stand-alone weekly newspaper. The Irish Times publishes a broadsheet page each Wednesday. This suffers from the drawback of only being one page, and by the Irish Times not having the Northern market penetration it once had. Also on Wednesdays, the Irish Independent publishes ‘Seachtain’ as an insert. It benefits from

having some experienced journalists, though has to concentrate on the schools market. It suffers from the Independent’s weak penetration in the North. In this situation, trade unionists must be concerned about the number of journalists’ jobs that have been lost. There must also be wider societal concerns. The existence of a media is important for any language and culture to develop. According to the censuses of 2011, over 40 per cent of people in the Republic have some knowledge of Irish: and almost 14 per cent in the North. Irish language broadcasting is reasonably healthy, but there is a need for the written word. In promoting that, there is no evidence of a consistent strategy from the Foras. As Oscar Wilde said: "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness." It takes time for a print title, or website, to gain recognition. With no stand-alone Irish language weekly for the past year, the readership has lost the habit of buying a paper, and it will take time for them to develop the habit of logging into the new online paper. This will have to bring together a new staff. Those who worked on Lá Nua, Foinse and Gaelscéal have mostly scattered. New journalists will need time to build up contacts, and develop an understanding of the issues in the Irish language sector. As a freelance contributor to Gaelscéal from its inception, I know the difficulties the (mostly) inexperienced staff faced in doing so. They were successful, but hampered by the lack of continuity. There are issues regarding the Irish language that are of particular interest to the Irish language community (to the extent such exists), and have to be examined. These are issues such as education, and whether a ‘total immersion’ (in Irish) approach is best, or a bilingual approach; the status of Gaeltacht areas; and the future of Irish-language ‘third sector’ organisations after the Foras’ ‘Samhail Nua Maoinithe’ (New Funding Mode). Public funding is not unique in the media. RTÉ and BBC are both publicly-funded because of their public service remit. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Broadcasting Funding Scheme was established to ‘provide funding in support of high quality programmes on Irish culture, heritage and experience’, and adult literacy, to local commercial and community stations. Inevitably, given its situation, Irish language media mostly needs subsidisation. Declaration of interest: I have worked for Lá Nua, Foinse, Gaelscéal and An tUltach.

MCCALL'S EPIC AWARD WIN DERRY and North West branch member Felicity McCall's writing work with the Foyle Haven centre for the homeless and former and active street drinkers triumphed at the recent Epic awards in Glasgow. Epic recognises the achievements of the 60,000 voluntary and community arts groups across the UK and the island of Ireland and the Foyle Haven Arts Collective's anthology and play, Every Bottle

Has a Story to Tell, won the prestigious Peer Award for Excellence. It also finished runner up in the all Ireland award. McCall told the Irish Journalist: “This shows that despite initial scepticism, the Foyle Haven group has successfully given a voice to our street drinkers and homeless that reaches far beyond the confines of Derry and has established them as a part of the city - not apart from it.'

Felicity McCall: Photo: Stephen Latimer



COMMISSION 'CLEARING HOUSE FOR MYTHS' Early establishment of the Referendum Commission would facilitate informed public debate and would assist journalists in covering contention referendum campaigns. That’s the view of Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary who has called on the Government to establish the Referendum Commission immediately on publication of the legislation governing the referendum on marriage equality. The Irish Secretary, who is a member of the Executive of the ICTU, was speaking at the launch of the SIPTU LGBTQ network at which he emphasised the support of the trade union movement for repeal of Section 37.1 of the Equality Act, which allows discrimination against LGBT teachers and medical practitioners. Describing homophobia as “the hate that dare not speak its name” Séamus Dooley said that homophobia remains a reality in many workplaces. While he would not envisage the NUJ played a role in any referendum campaign the NUJ, he said, recognised gay rights as part of the wider equality agenda of the trade union movement. On that basis Congress had played an important role in supporting the Civil Partnership Act. The launch took place against the backdrop of the controversy over RTÉs libel settlement against journalist

INTIMIDATION THREAT HITS REPORTER The National Union of Journalists has strongly condemned attempts to intimidate journalists covering criminal cases in Northern Ireland courts. Last month Irish News reporter Allison Morris had to be escorted from Belfast Magistrate’s Court having been abused by protestors present for the trial of a man accused of assaulting two police officers. Ms Morris was called a “Fenian bastard” and a “Fenian c**t” by a gang who also threatened to cut her throat. During the hearing a protestor made intimidating gestures towards the journalist and approached her in an intimidatory manner during an interval. NUJ President Barry McCall said the treatment of Ms Morris was “completely unacceptable” and “a threat to the principle of open democracy.” He added: “The media must be free to report on the courts without fear of violence or intimidation. Any attempt to undermine that right is an attempt to undermine the principles which underpin the judicial system.”

NI COMMITTEE Michael Fisher has been re-elected as Chair of the Northern Ireland committee of the IEC. The committee is an advisory committee of the IEC and at the recent meeting in Belfast President Barry McCall paid tribute to the Northern Ireland branches for their work over the past two years.

supported calls for critical analysis of the anti-marriage equality lobby by researchers, presenters and journalists. The role of the trade union movement in fighting homophobia and promoting gay equality was stressed by Katherine O’Donnell, Director, Womens’ Studies Centre, UCD. She said repeal of Section 37.1 was an issue around which trade unions could unite. Also on the panel was Rory O’Neill whose comments on the Saturday Night Show and subsequent appearance at the Abbey Theatre provoked public debate on the use of the term homophobia. Rory O'Neill has also called on the Government to legislate for marriage equality without a referendum. Séamus Dooley said trade unionists would be slow to rely on judicial activism as an alternative to a referendum. John Waters, Irish Times columnist Breda O’Brien, Iona The trade union movement’s experience of Institute Director David Quinn, who also writes for the the Supreme Court in vindicating the rights of workers Irish Independent and other members of the Iona was not positive. Institute. He also defended the track record of RTÉ and said calls Irish Times columnist Una Mullaly told the Liberty Hall for an advertising boycott arising from the Iona Institute audience that the media must be prepared to challenge settlement were not only misguided but, if effective, “discredited reports and misinformation and strongly could put the jobs of NUJ and SIPTU members at risk.

GUERIN TRIBUTE The death of Bernie Guerin evoked memories of her strong support for the NUJ. Bernie was mother of murdered Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin and became a campaigner for press freedom in her own right. Following Veronica’s death Mrs Guerin developed a close friendship with many NUJ members across the UK and Ireland. She was a special guest at the NUJ delegate meeting at Ennis in April 2000 where she gave a keynote speech at a “Right to Report” seminar. ‘My daughter,’ she told delegates, ‘did not give her life. It was taken from her and she was taken from her family.’

MEMBERS BROUGHT TO BOOK NUJ life member Gerard Smyth is the coauthor of If Ever You Go, am anthology of Dublin in song and poetry which has been selected as 2014 One City One Book. The anthology, a map of the capital, features the work of many poets and writers with journalistic and trade union links including Fred Johnston, Hugh McFadden, Pearse Hutchinson, Ulick O Connor, Francis Devine, John Boland and Smyth himself. On Wednesday 16th April in Liberty Hall the Cle club will celebrate the selection of the collection with an evening of music, song and poetry starting at 8pm. The evening will include songs and poems apparently excluded for copyright reasons. All welcome.


NUJ chapel officers and officials across the Ireland and the UK have been coping with significant changes in the Johnston Press group, not least in the Morton Press titles, where editorial reo-organisation has led to redundancies and sweeping changes to work practices. The undermining of editorial resources in the Northern Ireland titles has caused major concerns. In recent months Irish Organiser Nicola Coleman has led a recruitment drive within the company. President Barry McCall and Nicola attended a group chapel meeting, followed by a visit to Lisburn by Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary. While the attack on staffing levels and terms and conditions of employment has been a consistent concern of NUJ members the threat to editorial quality is a recurring theme. Meanwhile Johnston Press Group Chapel has written to Chief Executive Ashley Highfield protesting at plans to cut mileage rates by almost half. The letter t asked the publisher to urgently reconsider a "unilateral and potentially unlawful decision" to cut the amount paid to staff using their own cars from 45p - the standard HMRC rate - to 25p. London based Laura Davison, NUJ organiser, said: "Johnston Press says it wants all its employees to feel valued, but actions like these show just how little it thinks of staff who have shown a great deal of loyalty and commitment in the face of jobs cuts, office closures, increasing workloads and below-inflation pay rises. There has been no consultation on this mileage cut and editors have been briefed not to negotiate with our reps.”



DM: FOI & MOTION 42 DOMINATE AGENDA “An Irish issue will be debated in Eastbourne. Motion 42 advocates that the union should take a public stance on the upcoming referendum on abortion.”

The editor's view By Phil Mac Giolla Bháin THIS issue of the Irish journalist focuses on the upcoming DM in Eastbourne next month. There is Irish interest in that the NUJ’s President, Dublin-based Barry McCall, will conclude his year in office. DM will also see a specifically Irish issue debated at the lecterns in Eastbourne. Motion 42 will advocate that the union should take a public stance on the availability of abortion in Ireland and that is debated in these pages. I am grateful to IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran and Anthea McTeirnan of the Irish Times chapel for contributing to that debate with excellent pieces. We mark International Women’s Day with a piece from Mary Maher. The role of the Irish language in journalism on the island is addressed by Anton McCabe and the serious difficulties that are presented by there being no stand-alone national Irish language weekly paper. We also report on NUJ


A new chapel has been established in the Online Sports section of RTÉ. Chapel officers have been appointed and are already negotiating with management on a number of issues. Assistant Organiser, Ian McGuinness, said union members throughout Ireland should follow the example of their RTÉ colleagues. He said: “What we need throughout the NUJ is more chapels. Anybody interested in establishing one in their workplace should contact the Irish office for assistance. In contrast to those working in RTÉ, some journalists may be told that their employer doesn’t recognise the union but that doesn’t stop us from organising chapels and representing our members.” Any NUJ member can contact the Irish office on a confidential basis and they will help you establish a chapel. Just email or phone 01 8170340.

Rónán Ó Domhnaill’s appointment as An Coimisinéir Teanga, succeeding fellow union member and Irish language journalist Seán Ó Cuirreáin. However, we lead with the important issue of Freedom of Information requests and how they impact upon the work of journalists in the Republic. We also carry the uplifting story of Derry and North West branch member Felicity McCall's, whose writing work with the Foyle Haven centre for the homeless and former and active street drinkers triumphed at the recent Epic awards in Glasgow. I wish to record my thanks to Seamus Dooley and the staff of Spencer House for their assistance and to especially to Angela Haggerty and Ger Cunningham for their invaluable help with lay out and images.

CLOSURES HIT ALPHA GROUP The recent closure of the Carrickfergus Advertiser and the Ballyclare Gazette by the Alpha Newspaper Group was strongly criticised by the NUJ. NUJ President Barry McCall said the announcement “marks another sad chapter in the history of regional journalism”, noting that the Carrickfergus Advertiser was founded in 1883 and was one of the best known papers in Northern Ireland. The Ballyclare Gazette was founded in 1991. Mr McCall said: “Two of the three titles in the East Antrim Gazette division of Alpha are to close with no apparent regard for the impact of the decision on the staff or local communities. "This is a blow to the life of the local communities in these towns and the East

Antrim region. "I hope other options could be considered. "We have witnessed far too many communities being left devoid of locally edited titles reflecting the news in their own area." Belfast and District branch Chair Bob Miller said news of the closures was a major disappointment to journalists in Northern Ireland. He said: “Lord Kilclooney has an intimate knowledge of Antrim and is aware of the importance of the role these newspapers play in the community and civic life of East Antrim. "The loss of both newspapers is significant but the closure of the Carrickfergus Advertiser, and historic newspaper in a town steeped in history is especially poignant.”

NUJ CONDEMNS LATEST BELFAST ATTACK The National Union of Journalists has condemned the latest attack on a journalist in Belfast. The incident occurred on St Patrick’s Day when a freelance photographer was assaulted on leaving a function at Belfast City Hall hosted by the Lord Mayor. The NUJ member had been covering the reception and was walking down Royal Avenue when he was confronted by a group associated with a Loyalist flag protest. Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley described the incident as “alarming.” A man has been arrested in connection with the incident. He said: “Our member noticed that he was being followed by one of the group, who took his photograph. Two men followed him down the street and referred in a threatening manner to his association with the Irish News. They told him they knew which gym he went to, accused him of working for Sinn Féin, being a dissident and subjected him to sectarian abuse.

The behaviour was deeply disturbing. For a freelance photographer to be attacked in this way is unacceptable. Like many freelances this man works for a variety of media organisations, including the Irish News. No one should be threatened or intimidated because of their association with any media organisations. Coming so soon after attempts to intimidate a court reporter this incident yet again highlights the difficulties faced by media workers in Northern Ireland. The tone and language used is reflective of widespread sectarianism which can have no place in Northern Ireland.” Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley

The Back Page

March 2014




By Gerard Cunningham It’s Spring, and so the thoughts of freelance journalists old and new turn to the Freelance Forum. What do you, mean you haven’t thought about it yet? The Forum is a one-day event, now held twice yearly, providing freelance journalists (and aspiring student journalists) with information to better do their jobs. Brought to you by Dublin Freelance NUJ branch, it is a highly regarded event, and now in its… somethingth year. We can’t remember exactly. So whether you’re an old school hack or student journalist, you owe it to yourself to check out the Freelance Forum. Mark the date in your calendar: Monday 7 April at Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin. Don’t forget to reserve your place early. Come and hear commissioning editors Liam Collins (Sunday Independent), Aiden Corkery (Mail on Sunday) and Aine Toner (Woman’s Way)

breaking into broadcasting. And as an additional treat, Malachy Browne (Storyful) and Sinead van Kampen ( on new media. So what are you waiting for? Get over to the

“Whether you’re an old school hack or student journalist, you owe it to yourself to check out the Freelance Forum. Mark the date in your calendar: Monday 7 April at Buswells Hotel, Dublin - reserve your place early.” Dublin Freelance website and book your place now at See you there.

talk about pitching skills and what they’re looking for. Hear Sue Leonard and Abigail Riley on book writing and ghost writing. Lenny Antonelli on

REPORTING FAMILY LAW THE Courts Service and the National Union of Journalists are hosting a seminar for NUJ Reporters on the new area of family law reporting on Saturday 5 April 2014 from 11.00am - 2.00pm. Speakers will include Judge Rosemary Horgan, President of the District Court, who will deal with the new in camera laws on family and childcare court; Dr Carol Coulter, director of childcare reporting project and formerly legal editor of the Irish Times; and Gerry Curran M.A. Media Relations Advisor, the Courts Service and Cathaoirleach of the IEC. Registration:

“Speakers at the event on 5 April will include Judge Rosemary Horgan, President of the District Court, who will deal with the new in camera laws on family and childcare court - register for your place at the seminar now. ” law-reporting-seminar-tickets-10855670603 Password: dolphin

Judge Rosemary Horgan, President of the District Court




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