DEAR DAUGHTER

 

Sir, - In his article (March 19th) your Media Correspondent, Michael Foley, calls to task his media colleagues for "asking few questions and showing little journalistic scepticism in their assessment of Dear Daughter. Mr Foley, then proceeds to indulge himself" in rhetorical questions and scepticism while avoiding the objectives of honest journalism - checking the facts.

Mr Foley says: "The memories of Mrs Buckley were never challenged..."; the programme was . . . a simple story of one woman's experience". Fact: The programme included evidence from six other women. A further 20 women testified to the producer as to the veracity of the description, of the Goldenbridge regime; since the programme, numerous callers to the media have supported the evidence and three helplines have been set up to listen to the cries of pain.

Mr Foley says that there was no media follow up or reaction to Christine Buckley's story when it was first recounted in 1993. Fact: The story was followed up in at least one newspaper and there were requests for follow up interviews from others which I declined. Fact; There was continuous reaction on RTE radio for weeks afterwards. Fact. It was broadcast not in 1993 but in 1992. Fact. There were four different TV producers who discussed the possibility of making the programme.

In answer to Mr Foley's innuendo about the timing of the programme and why there was less follow up in 1992, there is a simple explanation. Immediately after the 1992 programme Sr Helena promised to provide counselling for 16 victims. Consequently, I declined requests for further media interviews because I only wished for counselling for my fellow inmates. It was only when this failed to materialise that I began work on the Dear Daughter programme. Despite my persistent phone calls practical efforts to provide counselling emerged only in September 1995 after plans for Dear Daughter were underway.

Instead of criticising its competitors for not asking questions, why did The Irish Times not check these facts and ask questions of me - after all that is the key point of his article.

For a newspaper that places so much emphasis on health issues and honest journalism I am surprised that The Irish Times should publish unfounded scepticism from Michael Foley, Kevin Myers and a number of letter writers about the suffering of so many Irish women. As sociologist, Dr Harry Ferguson, recently pointed out the willingness of the media to listen is vital to both the healing process for hundreds of men and women and to ensure that such regimes do not re occur. Are these people trying to prevent the healing? - Yours etc

Goatstown,

Dublin 14.

Michael Foley writes: The key point of my article was the different treatment of the same story by different media, in this case the drama documentary method of Dear Daughter, and that used by the news media. I still maintain that there was a significant difference in the way the story was followed up in 1992 and this year after the transmission of Dear Daughter, This was not simply due, to Ms Buckley's availability for interview. I will admit to scepticism but not of the unfounded type.