Wigmore - the IRA, ALbery Reynolds, Seamus Byrne, Charlie and Fianna Fail, Vinnie Doyle
A HEADING in the last issue of Magill - "We Are Four Seats Ahead of Radio" - gave the impression that television coverage of the election count was faster than that of radio, The truth was the exact opposite, even to the extent that throughout most of the election count night Brian Farrell had earplugs into the radio broadcast.
Radio is inevitably faster than teleevision on such occasions, simply beecause of simpler technology. But the anchor people on radio, John Bowman, Kevin Healy and Gerry Barry, are deeserving of recognition for their remarkable distillation of the results as they came in.
The television coverage was hamppered by the over-use of the Cara commputer, which throughout the night gave wildly misleading impressions of the swing to Fianna Fail and which failed to give the percentage breakkdown count by count, thereby making the intelligibility of the results very difficult. Commentators on television, because of the manner in which they receive information and the extraaordinary working conditions, are the least informed people in the country on what is going on, thus further hammpering television's coverage.
The advantage of television lies in its ability to hook up on air colleagues or opponents at times of high tension, thus prevailing on them to be more forthright than they would otherwise be. But as a conduit of the informaation on the results television this time fared very much second best to radio, partly because of the nature of the medium but also because of the missuse of the computer.
Incidentally, an internal RTE commputer provided a much more reliable guide to what was happening, simply because it had "human" input throughhout and was not operating solely on pre-arranged programmes.
SEAMUS BYRNE, who died recently, was one of the most jovial and pleassant personalities in Leinster House, where he, had been an usher since 1960. He provided an almost connstant stream of repartee, anecdote and mock abuse from his vantage point in the enquiry office - he was one of the best liked figures in the place. His knowledge of politics and of the hisstory of the Dail was considerable. He was a constant source of rumour, connjecture and, at times, minor scandal, without ever breaching the many friendships and confidences he built up over the years.
IN OUR report on the Albert Reynolds
supplement in the Longford Leader in the last issue of Magill we stated that the NUJ was in dispute with the management over the item. That someewhat misrepresented the situation ¨the NUJ branch simply protested to the management.
I, like many other journalists and politicians, regarded him as a friend and could rarely pass the enquiry office without inviting a comment from Seamus - it was usually invective aimed at myself. Seamus is missed in Leinster House by his many friends as well as by his colleagues on the Dail staff. To these colleagues, his wife and family we offer our condolences.
ONE OF the most unedifying specctacles in Irish politics for literally years was the behaviour of Fianna Fail TDs in the aftermath of the "unanimous" endorsement of Charles Haughey as the party's nominee for Taoiseach. Deputies, who had revealed repeatedly to reporters over the previous few days that they were disenchanted with Haughey, feigned near hysterical deelight at his success - the time must surely come when reporters- will feel that the normal requirements of connfidentiality are vitiated by treachery of an extraordinary kind .
THE MOST craven of the Fianna Fail
hacks has been Euro MP Paddy Lalor who has designs on Michael O'Kennnedy's post in the EEC Commission. In an obvious attempt to ingratiate himself with Charles J. Haughey Lalor issued a script to the newspapers in which he delivered a diatribe against the current biet noire of Fianna Fail" Bruce Arnold. Lalor, purportedly speaking at a meeting in Portlaoise on February 27, said: "I have known Arrnold for a long time, I was always susspicious of him but I tolerated him. He is an Englishman, bred, born and rearred and having carefully followed and studied his articles over the last couuple of years I am getting fearful of his motives. To put it mildly: this country has always been subjected to British subversive diplomacy. I'm not saying that Bruce Arnold is such an agent, but I am saying that such (his emphaasis) an agent couldn't openly write such scurrilous articles on an Irish Taoiseach and now leader of the Opposition and hope to get away with it - and still less get well paid for the stuff by the management of an Irish newspaper. "
It is a little disappointing to disscover that one of our representatives in Europe shouldn't have even an eleementary grasp of syntax or logic. It is also distressing to discover yet anoother shoneen in Irish politics who isn't prepared to say clearly what is on his mind (if that term can be used in the circumstances). But what is loathsome about the attack is Lalor's willingness to stoop so low to get his hands on moreEEC loot. Even a person of his meagre intelligence knows that being less than enamoured by Charles J. Haughey hardly qualifies one as a Briitish agent - were that so, more than half the people of this country would be in that category as would a sizeable number of the Fianna Fail Parliamenntary Party.
In general journalists should be tryying to get rid of the libel laws rather than exploiting them but this is one case where a politician should be taken to the cleaners. Right on Bruce.
THE UGLY face of Fianna Fail thuggery was exposed on the day of the "unanimous endorsement" as TDs and defeated TDs openly threatened members of the media. The most notorious of such instances was when Flor Crowwley behaved in an intimidatory manner to reporters from RTE following an interview with the party leader. Other reporters were also barracked in an obbviously threatening manner. There should be an iron rule in these cases ðany reporter who is threatened or inntimidated by a politician should report or broadcast that threat or intimidaation, naming the politician concerned. Magill will be happy to publish reports of any such incidents in the future.
Charles Haughey himself behaved appallingly that day also. He switched off the tape recorder of one R TE reeporter when asked about the O'Malley challenge and threatened another reeporter that he would ring the R TE Director-General to complain about questions again related to O'Malley. Haughey went on to allege that he would deal with the R TE reporters in his own way at a later time.
BOOK AND paper sellers outside the GPO have been subjected to harasssment over the last several months, perrhaps because the building has housed the office of one Patrick Cooney whose predelections are far removed from those of the purveyors of literaature beneath the hallowed portals. One of the more interesting threats issued by Gardai and officials _of the Departtment of Posts and Telegraphs has been to charge an alleged offender with "deefacing a public building" for leaning a poster of James Connolly against the wall.
VINNIE DOYLE, the editor of The Irish Independent has been expelled from the NUJ for failing to pay a £500 fine for plagarisrn , His paper had "liftted" a report in The Irish Times on the connection between the accounting firm, Haughey Boland, and the owners of the Stardust and an interview pubblished in The Sunday World with Bernadette McAliskey, following the assassination attempt - both stories were "lifted" without acknowledging their sources. In the course of the NUJ hearing into these matters Doyle was asked if he acknowledged he had done anything wrong. Indeed he did, he said, he should have rejigged the stories thereby disguising the sources. Incidentally, there was considerable controversy at the time about the MeeAliskey interview. The reporter invollved was one Ed McKenna, whom Mrs. McAliskey has no recollection of ever having met in her life. Furthermore, Mrs. McAliskey is insistent that the only reporters she spoke to at the time were two representing British left wing papers - nobody purporting to write for The Sunday World spoke to her at all. Vincent Browne