TG4 stands by series criticised by board member

 

MANAGEMENT AT TG4 has defended a series of programmes about women in the Republican movement, in response to criticism by a member of the station’s board.

Concubhar Ó Liatháin accused the programme makers of Mná an IRAof bias and described the first programme, on Dr Rose Dugdale, as “slipshod” and “one-sided”. The programme was broadcast last Thursday.

The six-part series has been made for TG4 by independent production company Loopline Films.

Mr Ó Liatháin said the use of the term “Óglaigh na hÉireann” at the start of the programme to describe the IRA was a loaded one which suggested some equivalence between it and the Army of the Irish State.

He confirmed he had sent an email on Friday to both the director general of TG4, Pól Ó Gallchóir, and the chairman of the TG4 board Peter Quinn, the former GAA president, urging them to review the five other programmes in the series.

He maintained as a board member it would be too late to bring it up at the next scheduled meeting in February as the series would be over by then.

Mr Ó Liatháin, a former editor of the now defunct Lá Nuanewspaper, said the programme “went against everything I know to be holy writ about making programmes as in there is another side to the story”.

He said no attempt was made to interview the victims of Dugdale’s actions and her views as an unrepentant Republican were not challenged.

However, TG4 deputy director general Pádhraic Ó Ciardha said the station was standing by both the Dr Rose Dugdale programme and the rest of the Mná an IRAprogrammes.

He confirmed they had received letters from Mr Ó Liatháin, and said these would be responded to.

He said the board was the proper forum for board members to bring up issues of importance.

“We don’t make any comment on internal discussions,” he said.

The programme detailed Dr Dugdale’s unusual life from her time as the daughter of English aristocrats who became involved in the student movements of the 1960s and then her involvement with the IRA.

She spoke freely about her attempts to bomb Strabane RUC station from the air using milk churns packed with explosives and also the raid on Russborough House in 1974, in which priceless works of art were stolen and the owner Sir Alfred Beit was badly beaten up.

Mr Ó Liatháin said two of the four contributors to the programme, Séanna Breathnach, the former officer commanding of the IRA in the H-Blocks, and Ite Ní Chionnaith, a former member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the INLA, were supporters of the Republican cause and there was no attempt to provide balance from those who opposed the armed struggle.

The programme also featured contributions from former Limerick Labour Party councillor Frank Prendergast and academic and human rights lawyer Fionnuala Ní Aoláin who spoke about the effects of violence on those who perpetrate it.

Future programmes in the series will be about former Republican prisoners Josephine Hayden and Rosaleen Walsh; Pamela Kane, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail for a bank robbery in Enniscorthy; Sinn Féin MLA and junior minister in the Northern Assembley Martina Anderson; and Rosie McCorley, who was sentenced to 66 years for IRA activities but was later released under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.