Mullen says 'IT' poll on abortion was misleading
SEANAD REPORT:Rónán Mullen (Ind) claimed that The Irish Times had run a misleading story based on an opinion poll about attitudes to abortion.
Calling for a debate about the way the media conducted itself around serious issues, he said he frequently saw groups on different sides of an argument presenting opinion poll information in a manner that ended up tricking the public.
Last weekend, The Irish Times “treated us to the story that there was apparently a massive surge in support for abortion in Ireland, that whereas in 1997 there was only 23 per cent support for abortion this has now risen to 77 per cent.”
Mr Mullen said he had taken the trouble to look back at the 1997 report of The Irish Times. He had no quarrel with the journalist who had written the recent story. Stephen Collins was a perfectly reputable journalist, “but you can’t always be sure what researchers assisting you do or indeed what subeditors do or editors do”.
The reference by the newspaper to the 1997 story seemed to have omitted figures for other respondent groups which at that time stated their support for abortion under certain circumstances.
The Irish Times had actually run a headline in 1997 that there was over 70 per cent support for limited abortion rights.
“It seems to me that when the question is put,” Mr Mullen said, “asking people do they support continued protection for the unborn consistent with all necessary medical care for women, that we get a majority for that.
“I think it’s time that newspapers of record looked at their record and asked themselves whether they are not in danger of losing the confidence of the public if they insist and persist in presenting information that seems to be less about informing and more about securing certain political ends.”