Minister to consult Cabinet over call for Rusbridger’s resignation

State commission chairman apologises again for publishing Greenslade blog in Guardian

Máiría Cahill calls for resignation of Alan Rusbridger from  the State’s Future of Media Commission. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Máiría Cahill calls for resignation of Alan Rusbridger from the State’s Future of Media Commission. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Minister for Communications Catherine Martin has said she is continuing to consult Cabinet colleagues over a call for the resignation of the former editor of the Guardian from the State’s Future of Media Commission.

The call has been made by Máiría Cahill who told a BBC Spotlight programme in 2014 that as a teenager she was raped by an IRA member and that the IRA had sought to cover up the assault.

She subsequently complained to the Guardian about a piece written by former Fleet Street editor Roy Greenslade, who recently publicly declared himself to be a supporter of the IRA’s campaign of violence.

On Monday night, Alan Rusbridger, former Guardian editor, issued another apology for publishing Mr Greenslade’s blog, in which he had questioned Ms Cahill’s motive for speaking out at the time.

Saying while he knew then that Mr Greenslade was a supporter of Sinn Féin, he had not known he supported the IRA’s campaign. “I wish I’d known. I wouldn’t have published it now and I’m sorry,” he told The Irish Times.

In an email to Ms Cahill on Monday, Ms Martin said she was “treating this matter with the utmost seriousness and continues to consult with colleagues and will be in touch with you again in the coming days”.

The Future of Media Commission – where Mr Rusbridger has chaired Zoom-held sessions – was appointed by the Government in September 2020 and is due to furnish its report in the next few months.

Lawyers

Ms Cahill’s lawyers complained about the Greenslade blog at the time and the matter was sent by the newspaper’s lawyers to the then Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott, though it was not brought to Mr Rusbridger’s attention.

Following an examination, the readers’ representative said he could not “see grounds for suggesting that the article has a number of significant factual inaccuracies”.

However, Mr Rusbridger has now apologised “both for the article and for the upset it must have caused her” because the article “spectacularly fails on transparency grounds”.

“I am not alone among his former editors and colleagues in feeling let down by Greenslade for leaving it until his retirement to place on public record his sympathies for the armed struggle,” he wrote.

Repeating her call for Mr Rusbridger’s resignation from the commission, Ms Cahill said it would advise “other media organisations on scrutiny and ethics and planning the future for the Irish media”.

“If I was an editor or a journalist and was taking advice from Alan Rusbridger on transparency and ethics, I think I would have a problem with that. Unless Alan is living on Mars, I don’t know how he was not aware,” she said.