DEPARTMENT SCORES OWN GOAL
It is with some bemusement that The Avondhu read this week’s letter from Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Sean Power TD to Mayor of Fermoy Tadhg O’Donovan.
While in the main the letter confirmed that the department was willing to listen to alternatives to the much-protested refurbishment of the weir, a final comment from the junior minister was particularly striking.
“I would urge the town council to do everything in its power to allay the fears, many of which are genuine but unfounded, of the local community in regard to the objectives and intentions of the department’s proposals, following inaccurate and unhelpful media coverage,” the minister wrote on Tuesday, December 16.
Despite being a local newspaper based in the community, throughout this ongoing issue with Fermoy’s Weir The Avondhu has endeavoured to remain objective and unbiased in the reporting of the matter. While Mr Power may find some media reports ‘inaccurate,’ if this is the case the blame must be laid closer to his own door and not here in Fermoy.
Throughout the last couple of months this paper has endeavoured to contact the Department of Communications to provide both sides of the story. To say the response from Mr Power’s department has so far been underwhelming would be an understatement.
Indeed The Avondhu has wondered if the title ‘Department of Communications’ is something of a contradiction given the lack of information supplied to local media, despite our efforts, on the department’s proposals.
In the past two months The Avondhu has received one email from the Department of Communications on the ongoing dispute – a statement received on December 1, which had previously been issued to local representatives.
This paper learned of the department’s public unveiling of the plans at The Grand Hotel last month through Fermoy Rowing Club. The department have never before suggested that coverage of the issue was inaccurate, and again this paper only learned of this through a letter to the mayor. That his own department itself has been unhelpful in communicating its objectives and intentions to the media should be a great concern for the junior minister.
Before communicating his accusations of ‘inaccurate and unhelpful’ media coverage to local representatives perhaps Mr Power could substantiate his claims that the coverage has been somewhat misleading by highlighting news pieces that are not accurate.
Furthermore he could address the ‘helpfulness’ of his own department in relaying their message to the media.
The people of Fermoy have genuine concerns for the weir. This paper has, more than any other, printed these concerns and has given plenty of column inches to both members of the public and local representatives opposed to such works. Perhaps this is how the media has been ‘unhelpful,’ in that the Department’s view has not been as well represented.
However we in the media can only report and write on what is said to us. Here at The Avondhu we will continue to cover the weir issue as long as it remains of public interest, and will also continue to ensure that our coverage is fair, objective and accurate. The ball is in your court, Mr Power.
Tuesday 30th December 12:24pm