Press ban mak­ing a mock­ery of vow for ‘trans­parency’

Enniscorthy Guardian - - SPORT - BREN­DAN FUR­LONG’S

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.

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