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One a day Live

Gerry Adams complaint against Irish Independent not upheld

Gerry Adams has not had a complaint against the Irish Independent upheld by the Press Ombudsman.

The complaint related to a story printed on the front page of the Irish Independent on September 1, 2017.

The story featured a report on an interview given by Deputy Adams to LMFM, a radio station in counties Louth and Meath.

The report was printed with the headline: Don’t jail IRA murderers of innocent farmer - Adams.

The report was based on the reponse given by Adams to the news that Gardaí had uncovered new lines of enquiry in its investigations into the 1991 murder of Tom Oliver, in County Louth.

According to the report, Deputy Adams has told LMFM that he did not think jailing Mr Oliver’s killers "would assist the process" and "would be totally and absolutely counterproductive".

The front page report ended with the information that the full story was available inside the paper.

Solicitors representing Deputy Adams contacted the editor of the Irish Independent stating that their client "denies your grossly inaccurate assertion” that he had said that Mr Oliver’s killers "should not be jailed".

In the letter, they claimed that “even from a cursory reading of the LMFM interview transcript it is quite clear” that Deputy Adams’ remarks had been “completely misconstrued” and that “he did not state that those responsible for the killing of Mr Oliver in 1991 should not be prosecuted”.

Solicitors representing the Irish Independent responded by saying that the article was “fair and accurate and by no means false and misleading”.

The solicitors included extracts from the radio interview transcripts which they claimed supported the headline on the article.

As Deputy Adams was not satisfied with the newspaper’s response, his solicitors made a complaint with the Office of the Press Ombudsman and included a link to the audio file of the complete interview with LMFM.

The editor of the Irish Independent made a submission to the Ombudsman stating that the “quote referred to by the complainant is incomplete” and that the newspaper report was a “truthful and accurate representation of the interview”.

In turn, solicitor’s representing Deputy Adams responded saying that the “headline and whole tenet of the article” was inaccurate as their client had “stated in the interview that Thomas Oliver’s family deserved the truth and also that Sinn Féin continued to facilitate attempts to put in place an independent international body to obtain information for Thomas Oliver’s family and other families”.

The Press Ombudsman chose not to uphold the complaint lodged by Gerry Adams.

The decision stated: "Newspapers are entitled to concentrate on particular parts of interviews which they regard as newsworthy. The view that Deputy Adams regarded the sending to jail, if convicted, the murderers of Mr Oliver as “counterproductive” was newsworthy.

"The qualification which Deputy Adams made in his radio interview that the families of those killed were entitled to the truth did not need to be referred to in the front-page report to meet requirements found in Principle 1. The reference to the counterproductive outcome of jailing Mr Oliver’s murderers was a specific statement, the right of families to the truth was something that had been stated before by Sinn Féin representatives and was, therefore, less newsworthy.

"The headline used on the front page article “Don’t jail IRA murderers of innocent farmer – Adams” whilst not reflecting the full intent of what Deputy Adams had said in his radio interview was a reasonable summary of the most newsworthy aspect of Deputy Adams’ interview."

Digital desk