Jude Collins

Friday, 14 October 2011

Are you mad as hell and...?

Below is the recent exchange between myself and the Complaints department at RTÉ. If you feel as I do, don't just fume - complain.  Now. Their email address is (unsurprisingly) complaints@rte.ie

From: Jude Collins [mailto:judejcollins@gmail.com]
 Thu 13/10/2011 19:32
 Complaint regarding presidential debate
- Hide quoted text -

I trust my complaint THIS time will at least be acknowledged - unlike last time.

Last night's debate on RTÉ as you must know by now was a disgrace to the name of public broadcasting. For Miriam O'Callaghan to present herself as a neutral chair while at the same time calling one of the candidates a murderer, enquiring if he went to confession, dismissing his quotation from the Bible about peacemakers as 'surely ironic', asking other candidates to indicate if they thought McGuinness 'was acceptable', presenting the conflict in the north as solely the responsibility of the IRA - if this weren't such a serious matter it would be laughable. In future I'd suggest viewers be forewarned that what they are going to see is a kind of political game-show in which the idea is to ignore nearing on twenty years of peace-work in Stormont and presenting  the most popular single politician in the north as unworthy of office. Shame on you, RTÉ. I won't add 'Shame on you, Ms O'Callaghan' as she's clearly beyond shame.

Jude Collins 

https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gifhttps://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gifComplaints to me

Dear Jude,

Thank you for your e-mail about the Prime Time Presidential debate. Your comments will be included in the RTÉ Audience Log, which is published weekly, and circulated internally, to senior programme management and is submitted for review at RTÉ's Editorial Meetings.

Please see below for a response to the points raised in your mail from RTÉ's Editor of Current Affairs programming, Ken O'Shea;

"Thank you very much for taking to time to write to us with your views. We in Prime Time appreciate all feedback from our audience – positive and negative – and all such communications are taken very seriously by our team.

We reject the central assertion that Martin McGuinness was treated in an unfair manner.
RTÉ is obliged to be impartial, objective and fair in its treatment of the candidates. We do not believe this requires us to treat all candidates in an identical manner. As a candidates’ past actions are of significant interest to the voting public, it is necessary to probe candidates’ backgrounds, as part of any interviews or debates.
Clearly the same questions cannot be asked of each candidate. We believe the questioning of Martin McGuinness was legitimate.

From my perspective, I am perfectly satisfied that we treated all of the candidates in the same way. Each got precisely the same time to make their pitch and each was questioned in the same way.
We would also point out that all candidates were given substantial time to discuss matters other than their personal suitability for the role.

I regret very much that you were unhappy with our efforts on this occasion, but please be assured that we always strive to provide fair, balanced but rigorous current affairs journalism.We hope you will continue to watch our election coverage.

And finally – I will be raising the points made by you at our weekly editorial meeting next Monday, as they are well made and warrant further discussion by the team. We fully realise that we don’t always get it right and we always need to be thinking about questioning and improving our work."

Thank you for taking the time to make your views known,

With every good wish,
Máire Nic Fhinn
RTÉ Communications

From me to Complaints: 

Dear Maire,

Thank you for your communication. I accept of course Mr O'Shea's point re the need for questions regarding a candidate's past, insofar as these would have relevance to his or her  fitness for office. In the case of Mr McGuinness, the past 17 years of his life in which he achieved what everyone predicted would be impossible - first peace and then working alongside, in a spirit of friendship, those who were sworn enemies -  was completely ignored, while his period in the IRA received sole focus. "Impartial, objective and fair'?  Ms O'Callaghan called Mr McGuinness a murderer on live television without producing a scrap of evidence  in support of her charge. "Impartial, objective and fair"? Ms O'Callaghan also asked Mr McGuinness did he go to confession - again, no question remotely resembling this was asked of other candidates. "Impartial, objective and fair"? Finally, Mr McGuinness was uniquely singled out  and the six other presidential candidates asked to judge on his fitness to be included in their number/running for president. "Impartial, objective and fair"?  

Mr O'Shea's response adds to the  lop-sided treatment of Mr McGuinness an insult to my intelligence, and the intelligence of any rational viewer.  I assumed that RTÉ bias resided solely in the performance of Ms O'Callaghan. I can now see that the weight of Mr O'Shea authoritative bias supports her. 

I am genuinely shocked that  Ireland's national TV station would not just permit such conduct  to occur but then argue that it was commendable.  Those responsible should hang their heads in shame.

Jude  Collins


  1. While important to complain to RTÉ, its much better to make the complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. You normally get the same West Brit response, but on a rare occasion you do get the complaint upheld and RTÉ reprimanded.

  2. Watched it and thought it was disgraceful.

  3. I don't know if the response was better than being totally ignored. Not being a clever person like yourself jude, I felt that the git was also talking down to me. Why do these media types think they are so important? Why are they paid a fortune to question the motives of people doing important work for much less? Who de fuck do they think they are?

  4. Don't know about you Jude but I get the distinct impression Mr O'Shea is a patronising Bastard, and he knows he is too.

  5. PJD I rarely disagree with you but I totally disagree with the first clause in your second sentence...I don't mind Mr O'Shea's condescending tone - I've been patronised by far better people than him....

  6. Jude, say what you like about Miriam, but as your picture of her from a few days ago shows, she does have some redeeming features.......

  7. Anon 23:48 - Hahahaaaa. I know the Bible urges us to raise our eyes to the hills, but methinks you're looking down at them...

  8. Red C Opinion Poll

    Sean Gallagher 39%
    Michael D Higgins 27%
    Martin McGuinness 13%
    Gay Mitchell 8%
    David Norris 7%
    Mary Davis 4%
    Dana 2%

  9. I’ve followed suit and sent a complaint to our friends in Donnybrook. It's very important that the progressive thinkers amongst us stand up against what was an altogether disgraceful and biased production.

  10. Thank you, Boru. Take heart - I have had several people whom I wouldn't have identified as Sinn Féin people by any means say the same thing: the programme was shameful.

  11. I watched the programme and thought it was disgraceful, Miriam O'Callaghan comments were totally out of order, She should be ashamed of her self