Cronyism Thriving in 21st Century Ireland

Eoghan Dalton questions the sacking of one of Ireland’s leading investigative journalists.

The Garda Commissioner breaks the law while driving and has speeding points applied to his license. Rather than accept this, the Commissioner instead decides to quash the points, giving him a clean licence once again. An award winning journalist investigates this and goes to the Commissioner’s house to question him. The journalist’s boss is not pleased with the journo for heading to his house without permission. This editor settles the matter by making the writer compulsory redundant as punishment for bothering the Commissioner.

That all happened in September; the journalist in question is Gemma O’Doherty, while Martin Callinan is the Commissioner and Stephen Rae is O’Doherty’s superior. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Irish Independent. Why did Rae feel so strongly about O’Doherty’s investigation? Nobody is certain, but Rae is a former editor of the Garda Review magazine which may leave some insinuating that he knows Callinan and other Gardaí. Political magazine The Phoenix first broke this story back in September but it has barely been picked up by any of the other Irish media outlets. RTÉ, TV3, the Irish Times and the Irish Daily Mail have all failed to give the story coverage, despite the poor treatment of O’Doherty.

Callinan does claim to have been on official Garda business when he was stopped; although it is hard to believe he would have received any points if that were the case. He was also driving his own car at the time of his speeding rather an official vehicle. O’Doherty first came across the case as she was investigating unlawful cancellations of driving points.

For those of you wondering why people should be overly bothered by O’Doherty being fired, then consider the hefty smell of cronyism between the Indo and the Gardaí. Martin Callinan should have had to accept his punishment similar to anyone else, yet it appears he used his position to overrule laws he is meant to uphold. As for Rae, he fired a journalist because she tried to do her job. Are they not fair arguments to make?

O’Doherty has received backing from numerous quarters after her redundancy; the National Union of Journalists has offered its support to her, stating that she may have a case for ”unfair dismissal”. Elsewhere, people who knew of O’Doherty from her previous investigations have publicly backed her. She holds a strong reputation thanks to her dogged work with the case of Fr. Niall Molloy, who died in mysterious circumstances in 1985. Molloy’s family are also campaigning for O’Doherty.

This is of course an old story for a magazine to be running (also, no organisation or newspaper had replied to my enquiries since the issue came to light), but so few outlets have covered O’Doherty’s sacking that it is only right that it is covered in more magazines, websites and newspapers until Stephen Rae and Martin Callinan admit their wrongdoing and the abuse of their positions. Until then, we can only surmise that the corruption and cronyism of the old Ireland is still around and thriving.