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Debunked: No, Eamon Ryan's nephew was not awarded a bike hire contract in Offaly

The misleading article was widely shared on social media before it was removed by Gript.

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EARLIER THIS WEEK news website Gript published a story which incorrectly claimed that a company run by Minister Eamon Ryan’s nephew won a contentious contract to run a bike hire service in Offaly.

Wednesday’s article stated: “Local company loses out as Eamon Ryan’s nephew wins major Bord na Mona contract.”

The article, and related social media posts, said there was “significant outrage” in the midlands over the situation.

The misleading article was widely shared on social media before it was removed by Gript.

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Ryan is the leader of the Green Party and the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications. The article implied that Ryan’s position in the government meant nepotism was a factor in the awarding of the contract.

The contract to run the bike hire service at Lough Boora was awarded to a company run by former Dublin GAA player Conal Keaney.

However, Keaney and Ryan are not related – a fact The Journal has independently confirmed.

About four hours after the article was published, Gript removed it and posted an apology.

The retraction stated: “Earlier today Gript Media confirmed with two sources – one a sitting Government TD – that a contract awarded to a company to run a bicycle rental scheme in the midlands, was awarded to a company run by Eamon Ryan’s nephew, Conal Keaney. While it is true that Mr. Keaney was awarded the contract, it is not true that he is Eamon Ryan’s nephew.”

Gript said it realised the error itself and was not contacted by Keaney, Ryan or anyone representing them.

“As soon as we discovered our error, we removed the piece from our site and all social media platforms, and we sincerely apologise for the error,” the statement noted.

Cabinet 013 Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (file photo) Source: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

In recent days locals in the area have expressed anger at the decision by Bord na Móna to select the Dublin company, Phoenix Park Bikes, at the expense of local man Pat Barrett who had been running the bike hire business for 11 years.

A number of local politicians have said the decision contradicts the ‘Just Transition’ recommendations for the region, which stresses the importance of local jobs amid the move away from the industrial extraction of peat from the boglands.

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At the time of publication, over 12,000 people had signed an online petition calling for the service to be returned to Barrett’s company.

The petition’s description states: “11 years of hard work, patience and unwavering kindness to countless visitors to Boora were not taken into account. Without Pat there would be no Lough Boora Parklands. It would not be the entity that it is today.”

In a statement Bord na Móna said: “The procurement process was a fair and open competition, conducted with independent oversight, and attracted a number of responses. All tender responses were evaluated across set competition and compliance criteria and the winning provider scored highest across all the evaluation criteria.

“We understand the disappointment of Mr Barrett but as a semi-state company we must implement the fair and open processes and procedures which are mandated by the State.”

The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus or another topic that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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