SF press machine is slammed
SINN Féin have been heavily criticised for their practice of releasing “generic” statements to the press, which MLAs and other politicians across the country later sign their name to.
The latest case of this can be seen in a statement issued to this newspaper, entitled “exposing and closing the PSNI’s revolving door” attributed to local MLA Cathal Ó hOisín.
The same statement had also appeared, word-for-word, in an editorial piece published in southern publication ‘Inside Ireland’, with the words attributed this time to Pat Sheehan MLA. Local publication, the Derry Journal, also printed the same ‘exposing and closing the PSNI’s revolving door’ statement, this time with the words attributed to Sinn Féin councillor in Londonderry Elisha McCallion, the party’s policing spokesperson in the city.
When asked whether he had composed or written the statement, local MLA Cathal Ó hOisín acknowledged that it was a “generic” press release, most probably issued from Sinn Féin’s central press office, distributed around the country and attributed to different MLAs and other politicians across each area.
When informed of this latest instance of Sinn Féin MLAs apparently both signing their name to the same statement , DUP MP for East Londonderry Gregory Campbell asked why people should vote for someone “who hasn’t the originality of thought to comprise their own views and statements?”
The practice has been exposed before, most notably in 2011 when the Derry Journal newspaper printed a statement by Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney, who represents the Foyle constituency. That statement was printed on July 19 in the Derry Journal, and appeared again in the Fermanagh Herald the very next day, word-for-word, but this time as a ‘Letter to the Editor’ from Sinn Féin MP and MLA Michelle Gildernew.
The same statement also appeared in the Mourne Observer on July 27, again as a letter to the editor but this time from Sinn Féin MLA Willie Clarke. Remarkably, the piece appeared yet again in the Tyrone Times on July 29, this time as a letter to the editor by Michelle Gildernew.
An Irish News article in August later exposed the fact that the same article had appeared numerous times and had been attributed variously to Raymond McCartney, Michelle Gildernew and Willie Clarke. The Irish News quoted Raymond McCartney as saying “There is no-one trying to pretend. The opinion piece was from me and then used by other people.”
It later emerged that the very same piece had also appeared in An Poblacht in 2006, this time attributed to Sinn Féin’s Mitchell McLaughlin.
Now, it appears both East Londonderry MLA Cathal Ó hOisín and his Sinn Féin party colleague Pat Sheehan have both had their names signed to the same piece.
East Londonderry’s MP, DUP man Gregory Campbell strongly criticised Sinn Féin for the practice, saying: “I think every political party has press officers who manage the press that comes out, but for some sort of press release to be distributed centrally and for MLAs to simply add their name to it, I think ordinary voters will start asking questions.
“If an MLA, a local councillor or an MP hasn’t the originality to comprise their own thoughts and statements, people will ask themselves why am I voting for this person who puts their name at the bottom of a press release without establishing whether they actually agree with what is in it?”
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Weather for Londonderry
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 12 C
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Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
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