Wexford council secretary apologises over email to radio station

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was “concerned” over the council’s alleged attempt to link advertising spend with the broadcaster to editorial content
Wexford council secretary apologises over email to radio station

Sarah Slater

Wexford County Council’s secretary has apologised to councillors and colleagues over the public controversy caused by an email attempting to link advertising spend to editorial content at South East Radio.

David Minogue’s apology came after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he was “concerned” over the council’s alleged attempt to link advertising spend with the broadcaster to editorial content.

Mr Martin commented after details of an email from March 25th between the broadcaster and the council were published in The Irish Times over the weekend.

The email had suggested that the Wexford radio station agree its presenters would not express personal opinions on air in return for the council taking out advertising on the station.

The Taoiseach pointed out that Ireland is a “free society” with a “free media” and that they are entitled to secure advertising in the market “like everybody else”.

Mr Minogue said in a statement issued on Tuesday night that it is “unfortunate” and “regrettable” that an email intended to “create opportunity for an improved working relationship and to avoid future discord can be misinterpreted so as to have the directly opposite effect”.

Mr Minogue, who is also the council’s head of communications, said: “I wish to apologise to the Elected Members and to my colleagues at Wexford County Council for the manner in which my well-intentioned efforts to rebuild a strong working relationship between the Council and South East Radio have given rise to public controversy.

“It would appear this is exactly what has happened in relation to my email of 25thMarch 2022 to South East Radio.

“My email and its contents were designed to improve the working relationship between Wexford County Council and South East Radio, not to damage it further as I appear inadvertently to have done.”

He said the sides could iron out any differences and that he was “confident” that an “amicable and mutually acceptable outcome” could be achieved.

Mr Minogue said he intends to make contact with Eamon Buttle, general manager of South East Radio, to clarify the matters outlined in his email last month and to “reaffirm” his genuine intentions behind the email.

In January the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) found against council chief executive Tom Enright saying he “misused the council position in effect throwing around the weight of the councils purse” and in doing so put pressure on South East Radio to alter its broadcasting practices.

Mr Enright apologised to the elected members of the council in January for any “embarrassment that he may have caused”.

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