Press Ombudsman rejects complaint by Gerry Adams against the Irish Independent over ‘IRA murderers’ quote.
The Press Ombudsman has rejected an official complaint from former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams against the Irish Independent.
The complaint related to a front-page story published by the Irish Independent on September 1st of last year which was headlined “Don’t jail IRA murderers of innocent farmer – Adams”.
The story claimed its content consisted of extracts of an interview Mr Adams had given to local radio station LMFM reacting to news of the emergence of new lines of inquiry discovered by gardai in relation to the murder of Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver by the IRA in 1991.
The report claimed that Mr Adams had said that he did not think that jailing Mr Oliver’s killers “would assist the wider process”. He was also reported to have said that jailing the killers “would be totally and absolutely counterproductive”.
Gerry Adams’ solicitors wrote to the Editor of the Irish Independent, Fionnan Sheahan, stating that their client “denies your grossly inaccurate assertion” that he had said Mr Oliver’s killers should not be jailed.
Following this, legal representatives for the Irish Independent responded by saying the article “fair and accurate and by no means false and misleading”. They also included transcripts of the LMFM interview to support the headline.
This is when Mr Adams made an official complaint to the Office of the Press Ombudsman.
Following the complaint, Mr Sheahan stated that what the paper had printed was a “truthful and accurate representation of the interview” and that a quote referred to by Mr Adams was “incomplete”.
Mr Adam’s solicitors responded to this by saying that the “headline and whole tenet of the article” was inaccurate as Mr Adams had “stated in the interview that Thomas Oliver’s family deserved the truth and also that Sinn Fein continued to facilitate attempts to put in place an independent international body to obtain information for Thomas Oliver’s family and other families”.
In his conclusion, Ombudsman Peter Feeney said that while the front page story did not mention that Mr Adams had said he supported the rights of families of people killed by the IRA “to see investigations and prosecutions”, this information was carried in the fuller story on page six.
Mr Feeney said he did not believe the failure of the front page article to refer to this rendered it untruthful or inaccurate. This information was carried in the inside report.
“The view that Deputy Adams regarded the sending to jail, if convicted, the murderers of Mr Oliver as ‘counterproductive’ was newsworthy”, he said.
“The reference to the counterproductive outcome of jailing Mr Oliver’s murderers was a specific statement, the right of families to the truth was something that had been stated before by Sinn Féin representatives and was, therefore, less newsworthy.
“The complaint is not upheld”.