Irish Journalism And Ethics (Please Dont Laugh!)

Angst-ridden Journalists are worked up about Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin  standing for the Irish Presidential Election. The problem is that they dont like him very much because he might have some “Baggage”. Indeed he has admitted as much and even said so under oath at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. The Irish Police and indeed no other Police force is at all interested in questioning him about anything in his Past.

When the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, it was of course a victory for Creative Ambiguity. Nobody or organisation signed up to the Peace Process was ever going to be charged with any offence. Nor was anyone going to get an official “amnesty”. It was just one of those areas where nobody was going to shine a light.

Of course the problem for many journalists and liberal dissidents is that within a few years of its signing, the Peace Process had gone down a different route than the one they triumphantly wrote about. Rather than placing the SDLP and UUP at the head of nationalism and unionism, the electorate (remember them?) chose Sinn Fein and the DUP. In an atmosphere of “compromise”, the two tribes turned to their extremes.

Martin McGuinness now sits alongside DUPs Peter Robinson in the First Ministers Office at Stormont and the problem for liberal dissidents is that this is likely to be the case for an entire generation.

McGuinness probably wont win the Election. But in standing he makes Sinn Féin even more acceptable to mainstream politics in the Republic of Ireland. In the views of many, “northern politics” is toxic and the poison will spread. Mainstream politics has been already undermined by the failure of Governments to deal with the excesses of the Irish bankers who have crippled the Irish economy and put the nations well-being in the hands of “Europe” and the International Monetary Fund.

Of course another pillar of Irish Society …the Catholic Church is in turmoil. There is a raging anti-clericalism, which has been caused by paedophilia and a poor response to it by the Church. The seal of the confessional is a target. Priests, we are told, must report paedophilia declared in Confession to the Police. …the campaign is being led by……..journalists.

Priests have been told things (indeed about the Troubles) under the seal of the confessional. Understandably the Church resists any attack on their “rights” as an attack on Freedom of Religion. Journalists have been told things (about the Troubles) in off the record interviews ith “terrorists”. And Journalists resist any law which obliges them to disclose their sources.
I see a clear parallel. Yet anti-Sinn Féin journalists are now agonising about why Martin McGuinness wont answer their searching questions and suggesting that his role in the Troubles needs to be exposed for the benefit of the Irish Electorate.

But surely any anti-Sinn Féin journalist can walk into a police station north and south and hand ver the evidence they have collated over the years. Can they expect Mr McGuinness to incriminate himself in front of TV cameras.

It is hypocrisy of Journalists to claim that Catholic priests have a duty to wider Society and not protect penitents and to claim that journalists have no duty to wider society and must protect their sources. As always Journalists want it both ways.

Either way resonable people would not argue FOR one position and AGAINST the other position.

Are priests and journalists entitled to same levels of “protection”?
Or required to give the same levels of disclosure?
Or is there a different standard?

But rather like a priest going into a police station to report a serious crime discovered via confession would find himself discharged from the priesthood…..a journo going into a police station to hand over the notes of his interview with Whoever in 1973 would quickly find himself/herself drummed out of Journalism.

Neither Priest or Journalist feels they owe something to broader “society”. I make no judgement but rather say many reasonable people think that they do owe such a duty. Perhaps other reasonable people think that they dont.
But Id be surprised if a reasonable person made a distinction……..between priestly goose and journalistic gander.



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