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RTÉ, the Indo and the Times were "very, very hostile" towards Sinn Féin: Pearse Doherty

The Donegal TD has hit out at the election coverage of his party by some media organisations – and said it impacted voters.

Image: Sam Boal

SINN FÉIN’S PEARSE Doherty has criticised some media coverage which his party received during the last general election – stating that it had a negative impact on their campaign.

In a wide-ranging interview with TheJournal.ie, which will be published tomorrow morning, he hit out at The Irish Independent, The Irish Times and the national broadcaster RTÉ.

“Look at the Irish Independent, look at the Irish Times, look at the election coverage of RTÉ and look at the amount of times Sinn Féin was mentioned… Put them into a category of whether it was a positive story or a negative story or a neutral and fair story. You will find they were very, very hostile towards Sinn Féin at that time. And that impacted on the campaign,” he claimed. 

Media coverage during general election 

He said the party secured the most votes it has ever won before, but a number of ‘softer’ voters who might not have a history of supporting Sinn Féin were influenced and possibly deterred from supporting his party by some of the news stories.

Sinn Féin secured more votes on this island of Ireland than it has ever done before, so we increased our votes significantly, but yes, there were people that were coming to us with softer votes, from areas we wouldn’t have been that established in, that wouldn’t have a very big organisation in it, and some of them would have been influenced by what was being thrown at them – day in, day out – by the media.

The DCU-based Institute for Future Media & Journalism (FuJo) published a study of early print coverage of parties during General Election 2016 which did indeed point to Sinn Féin experiencing negative coverage, largely in contrast to the neutral coverage enjoyed by other parties. This, the researcher Dr Eugenia Siapera noted, “was largely attributed to the Irish Independent”.

Criticism of Sinn Féin

He said the waters have calmed since the formation of government, but he says he expects the criticism to pick up again once there is another election called. “You don’t hear much about it in this weather, but when an election is called, we’ll hear about it all again and that is the way they are,” he said, adding:

There are certain forces in society that don’t want to see the change that Sinn Féin want to bring about, there are certain elites that don’t want to see it, but there are enough people out there who are yearning for change.

He claimed that a number of media organisations have an agenda against Sinn Féin, and are determined to damage the party’s chances of getting into government.

“Some of those publications have an agenda, Independent Newspapers have an agenda – they are entitled to have their agenda – and their agenda was to keep us down,” he claimed.

“But they didn’t succeed. We increased our vote substantially and it is only a matter of time before we are a party in government. Hopefully that will happen in the next election.”

  • Read the full interview with Pearse Doherty on TheJournal.ie tomorrow at 7.45am.

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