Murder coverage betrays editorial agenda of media
Of the murders of two women in January 2011, one has got blanket coverage, the other got only passing attention
ON JANUARY 11th, 2011, the following death notice was posted on the website rip.ie: “The death has occurred of Breda Waters of St Munchin’s Court, St Mary’s Park, Limerick City, Limerick. Deeply regretted by her parents, John and Patricia, children Courtney, Amber, Jonathan, brothers and sisters, partner, Pat, grandparents, nephews, nieces, extended family, neighbours and friends. May she rest in peace. Requiem Mass on Thursday morning at 11am. Burial afterwards in Mount St Oliver Cemetery.”
Courtney was aged 9, Amber aged 4 and Jonathan aged 2. Their mother, Breda Waters, aged 28, had been murdered in a house in Southill, Limerick, a few days previously. She was murdered apparently because she was in the company of a person who allegedly owed money to a crime gang in Limerick, Des Kelly (24), who was murdered along with her. There was no suggestion of any criminality on the part of Breda Waters.
Her murder got only passing media attention, mainly when people accused of her and Des Kelly’s murder have been before the courts. The trial begins in Ennis next month.
On August 2nd last, the Limerick Leader reported that Breda Waters’s bereaved family were heartbroken again on learning that an inquest had been held into her death at Limerick’s coroner’s court and nobody had bothered to inform them. As it happened, the inquest was adjourned because of the supposed imminence of criminal proceedings.
On January 10th, 2011, the day after Breda Waters was murdered, another woman was murdered. In contrast to the indifference of the media to the murder of the Limerick mother of three young children, this other woman’s murder has received immense media attention. This other murdered woman left no bereaved young children and her murder was hardly any more traumatic for her parents, siblings, relatives and friends than the murder of Breda Waters was for hers.
The national public service broadcaster, RTÉ, might be expected to give proportionate attention to the two horrific events – or at least not to ignore one while giving inexhaustible coverage to the other.
One of RTÉ’s highest-profile reporters has been dispatched to a remote country, Mauritius, at considerable expense no doubt, to give almost hourly emotional reports of the trial of two people accused of her murder, as though this was an event of national importance – this is now into its fifth week. I can think of no other trial that has got such extensive coverage on RTÉ in recent years, certainly not since the Catherine Nevin murder trial.