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Irish Times ban remains as Communicorp invites The Currency back on air

Last month, Communicorp effectively banned journalists from The Currency appearing on the group’s stations.

Tom Lyons and Ian Kehoe of The Currency
Tom Lyons and Ian Kehoe of The Currency
Image: Sam Boal

MANAGEMENT AT TODAY FM have told staff that journalists of The Currency website can be invited back on air. 

It is understood the Communicorp-wide ban against Irish Times’ journalists remains in place. 

Management at the Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp wrote to staff in September to ask them not to invite any journalists from news website The Currency onto the group’s stations.

Communicorp has confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the ban has now been lifted and that programming teams across the company were informed they can re-engage with The Currency.  

However, The Currency’s editor Ian Kehoe told this publication that staff will not be appearing on Communicorp stations, explaining how they had sought, but not received, clarification from the station regarding a similar ban relating to Irish Times’ journalists. 

An effective ban was issued to journalists from The Irish Times two years ago when the CEO of Communicorp wrote to staff to tell them journalists from the publication would not be appearing on any of the group’s stations after Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole criticised gender balance at the broadcaster. 

In a tweet this afternoon, Kehoe said his firm sought clarification that “a similar ban had also been lifted from our colleagues at the Irish Times”.

“This has not been provided, nor has any explanation as to why the ban was imposed or why it has now been lifted,” he continued. 

“We welcome the public, political and journalistic support in recent weeks. However, as a team, we have decided not to appear on Communicorp stations while the ban remains in force against Irish Times journalists.

“When the ban was imposed, we said: ‘The Currency believes that journalism matters and that stories matter. No matter what journalist is telling the story.’ We still believe this to be the case.”

Background

In September, Kehoe had been due to appear on Today FM’s The Last Word programme to discuss an article he wrote about the finances of Sean Quinn and his family.

Kehoe told TheJournal.ie that the article was the result of six months of investigation but that he was subsequently informed that The Last Word segment would not be going ahead.  

In an email to Communicorp staff at the time, Today FM’s assistant programme director John Caddell described The Currency as “a competitor platform” and asked that contributors to it not be invited onto the station. 

The matter was subsequently raised in the Dáil with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stating that he did not condone the ban on certain Irish journalists.

Earlier this month, TheJournal.ie also revealed that Minister for Communications Richard Bruton wrote to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland stating that the ban on some journalists from appearing on its radio stations appeared to be “antithetical to the concept of a free and open press”.

The BAI said it would not intervene in the matter. 

Sinn Féin today plans to introduce a Bill to the Dail to prevent broadcasters from banning journalists from appearing on their airwaves because of their employer.

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