Press ban making a mockery of vow for ‘transparency’
WEXFORD G.A.A. Chairman, Derek Kent, has chosen an odd form of attack on a local journalist, but his bashing is too vague to be helpful. A Convention bulletin was published on the official County Board website recently (the press were not present owing to the ban imposed by the Board).
It outlined details of the Chairman’s address, stating that Wexford G.A.A. ‘will address the often inaccurate and erroneous “fake news” stories by a local reporter’.
It added that the unduly negative tone of these stories does not help Wexford G.A.A. ‘in its efforts to increase commercial income in order to help promote our games.
‘Properly researched and factual commentary is welcome and criticism when merited can be constructive. Wexford G.A.A., however, has a responsibility to defend its large cohort of volunteers, who contribute selflessly to the organisation and enjoyment of our games from unwarranted or incorrect public criticism.’
It’s a sad day when the County Chairman chose a Convention without a newspaper presence to question the integrity of a local journalist.
I’ve no doubt that his singular attack is aimed at myself and my work, after more than 50 years covering G.A.A. affairs in the county and outside, when I have endeavoured to carry out a proper analysis of the Wexford G.A.A. scene.
While he complained about ‘the often inaccurate and erroneous “fake news” stories’, according to the bulletin he didn’t offer any detail beyond that.
This is the same County Chairman who, in the long history of the G.A.A. in Wexford, became the first to inform the local media that they could no longer cover County Board meetings.
The decision has denied the clubs, its members and supporters – on whose financial loyalty they so much depend upon to carry on their day-to-day business – full and proper reporting on the workings of the Association in the county.
This was a decision taken by the county management committee and backed by the majority of County Board delegates. It was presented as a chance to give delegates an opportunity to contribute to County Board meetings without fear of being quoted in the local media.
They took aim at the press, but what have delegates to fear once they believe that what they are contributing to County Board meetings is constructive and positive?
It took some consideration before I decided to respond to the Chairman, after his comments were brought to my attention by annoyed clubs and supporters, but I would not have anticipated such a vague attack on my credibility as a journalist of so many years’ standing, having covered the affairs of the Association in the county since the 1960s.
I’ve enjoyed those years and, for the record, I have never been directly requested by the G.A.A. – now or in the past – to retract or clarify any of the articles that appeared under my byline.
I have given my time, voluntarily, both at club and county level, operating as a club player and officer, and serving as County P.R.O., all in the interests of Wexford G.A.A.
In my work as a journalist I’ve certainly questioned aspects of the running of the Association in the county, which is my right, but unlike in the past the current management committee seem immune from criticism, or perhaps they feel they are above it.
My credibility as a journalist was questioned for the first time during the chairmanship of Ger Doyle who, at a County Board meeting in Bellefield, condemned some of my writing on aspects of the G.A.A. in the county.
At present it appears that ‘fake news’ has become a popular throwaway comment ever since the election of Donald Trump as American President.
The Chairman should rise above this loose term and outline exactly to the clubs what he is actually trying to address.
This is particularly important given that, after his election to the role, he promised delegates ‘transparency’ in all workings of the G.A.A. in the county.
But what was his next move? – ban the local media from County Board meetings. So much for transparency.