Busy day today, but here goes anyway – some things cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.
The Irish Times has issued an apology to the Communications Clinic- the house of spin owned by Terry Prone and her family – after Kate Fitzgerald’s article published on September 9.
There is a simple anomaly here- neither she nor they were mentioned by name, so what is the Times apologising for?
Surely it should be regretting the fact that their identities became known by other means, rather than the article itself?
The Times goes on to say that “ significant assertions within the original piece were not factual”, but neither they nor the Communications Clinic specify what these assertions were.
In fact, I cannot recall seeing a single public statement from Prone on the issue, despite the fact that it appears she’d normally turn up at the opening of an envelope if it was televised or photographed.
The craven apology then goes on to state “their publication was significantly damaging to the staff and management of her employer, the Communications Clinic”.
Is it glib to suggest that the writing of the article was even more damaging to Kate Fitzgerald, who took her own life shortly after doing so?
But the killer blow comes at the end, when the Times blithely states that “no legal representation was made to us on this matter.”
It’s as if they woke up one morning and said “remember that anoymous piece about depression by that girl who killed herself? That must have been very upsetting for the Communications Company. We really should apologise for that.”
The reason for this rebuttal is this; the Irish Times is saying that it was wrong to publish the article. I disagree.
Despite the application of the highest journalistic standars, in an open debate about depression and its effects on the family, society and the workplace, reputations are going to get questioned and in some cases damaged.
Instead, the Irish Times has chosen the easy way out and apologised to, possibly without realising that in doing so, they are implying in the process that Kate Fitzgerald was lying in her article – a serious allegation in itself, I think you’ll agree.
In allowing the piece to be published anonymously with no reference to her employer, the Irish Times has done all that is reasonably possible to facillitate that debate whilst protecting the reputations of those involved.
That the Communications Clinic was subsequently identified is regrettable; that they have been apologised to in this manner is shameful.
They have offered nothing to the public debate on the treatment of people who suffer from depression in the workplace – all they have offered is more of the same thing that allows depression and bullying to prosper.