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Press Council rejects Sen Ruane’s claim on Sen Keogan quote in Meath Chronicle

The Press Council has rejected a complaint made by Senator Lynn Ruane that an April 30th report published in the Meath Chronicle had included a “false unproven claim.”

Ruane was referring to a quote from Senator Sharon Keogan who had claimed that she had been bullied by Senator Ruane during a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy.  

As can be seen from a video of the exchanges, Senator Keogan was clearly the subject of a pile on from Senators who were not prepared to listen to any views other than their own,

Senator Keogan had previously been thrown off the Committee on Gender Equality for putting forwarded what is the generally accepted definition of what constitutes biological sex. She subsequently resigned from the Committee on Surrogacy.

The ganging up on Senator Keogan, which was also participated in by an NGO representative, was unsavoury and has no place in an institution that is supposed to reflect a cross section of opinion. That actual diversity of opinion is the whole point, in fact, of democratic bodies.

Keogan, in an interview with the Meath Chronicle said she was a victim of bullying – and Ruane complained the paper to the Press Council for running her comments.

From the Press Council’s report:

On 30 April 2022, the Meath Chronicle published a front-page report under the headline “Keogan: ‘I was the victim of bullying’”. The article quoted Senator Sharon Keogan as saying she had been bullied for her views at an Oireachtas Committee by another Senator, Lynn Ruane.

Senator Lynn Ruane wrote to the editor claiming that the newspaper had published “a false unproven claim” without any attempt to offer her a right-of-reply. She said that the Meath Chronicle headline displayed “a disturbing lack of understanding of the legal definition of bullying”. She sought a retraction and an apology.

As the complaint could not be resolved by conciliation it was forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for a decision, who looked at the case under Principle 3.1 and 4 of the Code of Practice of the Press Council.

Principle 3.1 states that the press shall strive at all times for fair procedures and honesty in the procuring and publishing of news and information.

The Ombudsman found that: “The Meath Chronicle reported on an Oireachtas Committee meeting which included an exchange of widely differing views. Senator Keogan afterwards told the newspaper that she felt she was bullied for her views by Senator Ruane at the Committee. The newspaper reported the opinions of both Senators – what Senator Ruane said at the Committee meeting about Senator Keogan and what Senator Keogan said afterwards about Senator Ruane. This was a legitimate contribution by the newspaper to public debate and cannot be characterised as a failure of fair procedures and honesty. It would be unreasonable to expect newspapers to include responses on all occasions to the expression of hostile views about individual politicians. I can find no evidence of a breach of Principle 3.”

Principle 4 of the Code protects the constitutional protection to a person’s good name. In this regard the Ombudsman found that “The Meath Chronicle published a report following heated exchanges at an Oireachtas Committee. The comments complained about were not reported as fact, but as the opinions of Senator Keogan,  and they  were attributed to Senator Keogan. I can find no evidence of any malicious misrepresentation or unfounded accusations in the report. Equally I can find no evidence that reasonable care was not taken in checking facts before publication. For these reasons I find there was no breach of Principle 4.”

Clearly the extreme liberal left in this country does not even have the patience to wait for when they are actually in power in order to attempt to shut their opponents up.  That a Sinn Féin member of the Committee on International Surrogacy, Kathleen Funchion TD who chaired the meeting in question, clearly used her position to take the side of Ruane ought to give pause for thought. For it is this party, with the possible add on of the rag tag and bob tail of the minor left parties who are the most likely left party to take power here.

Their behaviour within their own structures and where they have the upper hand elsewhere does not bode well for anyone who dares to oppose them on any issue.

In the case of the Meath Chronicle the editor was clearly within his rights to publish the comment from Senator Keoghan and the piece had quoted from Ruane’s own statement at the Committee. The Press Ombudsman therefore found no grounds for upholding Ruane’s complaint that she had been misrepresented and was therefore the newspaper not in breach of Principle 4 of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.

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