Catholic Standard in distress
The CATHOLIC Standard, once the triumphant bulwark of the Irish Catholic Church against the corrupting liberalism of the popular media, is in distress.
Not alone has its circullation dropped dramatically since the 'fifties - from 72,000 per week, when it boasted 'we sell twice as much as The Irish Times', to 12,000 -but its staff relations are in chaos. The distress is all the more surrprising when one considers the groups of entrepreneurs who are currently backing the enterprise.
The directors of the Standard are led by German Otto Herschan, who controls property and Catholic papers in Britain. With him are Paddy McGrath, the Sweeps, Waterford Glass and Irish Glass Bottles magnate, Eamonn Andrews the TV entertainer, Denis Coakley, the head of Erin Foods, agriibusinessman Frank Fitzpattrick, the solicitor who conntrols the Irish News and Fr. Peter Lemass.
Fr. Lemass' presence on the Board explains the preesence of the others. Each of them was roped in to bailout the dying Standard by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Ryan. Each has given several thousand pounds to save the Standard ,and Paddy McGrath has chipped in with at least £30,000. They have saved the newspaper from complete extinction, but in the process have displayed a strong antipathy to trade unionism and a disregard for the rights of staff memmbers.
Examine the record. Editorial staff: John Feeeney, appointed editor 1973, sacked in 1976; Jim Doyle, appointed senior reporter in 1973, sacked in 1975; Mary Lawlor, appointed reporter in 1973, sacked in 1975; Tim 'Tynan, appointed deeputy editor in 1973, resigned on request in 1975; Tony Hyland, appointed deputy editor in 1975, resigned in 1976; Sean Olson, appointed editor in 1976, sacked in 1977.
Management: Tim Dennnehy jnr., appointed appointed General Manager 1972, dismissed in 1973; Conn MaccCinnghamna, General Manaager 1973, sacked the same year; John McGrath, appoinnted General and Advertising Manager in 1973, sacked 1974; Eamonn Moore apppointed General & Advertising Manager in 1974, reesigned following a dispute in 1975; Theo Cottuli, appointed General Manager in 1976, sacked 1977.
The post of General Manaager with the Standard has recently been advertised. The salary its last recipient reeceived was less than £80.00 a week. Three layout artists have been dismissed in the last· four years. As have eight general members of staff.
The Managing Director, Otto Herschan, refuses to accept wage rounds. He claims staff have come in to his employ between rounds, and thus they are not relevant. The pay for secretary to the General Manager last year was £27.00 a week. Not until 1975, when the ITGWU threatened to picket, were the General staff unionised.
On no occasion has any member of the Board obbjected to the successive dissmissals.
The subsequent careers of those sacked belies any theory that the Standard has been uniquely unfortunate in the staff it attracts. Jim Doyle does very well with the Limerick Weekly Echo, Tim Tynan is a top execuutive in' Muintir na Tire. Mary Lawlor a reporter with the' R TE Guide, Eamonn Moore Advertising Manager of Irish Business magazine, etc.
With sales falling at a rate of 400 copies a month, the new editor, Seamus Brady, can hardly expect to be long in the editorial chair given the record of his predecessors.