Editor’s note. The referendum deciding whether to remove the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution and authorize Parliament to legislate on abortion takes place this Friday.
We all know the Times.ie, Rupert Murdoch’s flagship paper in Ireland, has been campaigning relentlessly for a YES vote on Friday. Each day, a new dose of YES side propaganda appears in the newspaper, and they have relentlessly targeted NO spokespeople and campaigners with negative stories.
Some of its employees, like Ellen Coyne and Lise Hand, have been overtly pushing for a YES vote for months. Tomorrow, the paper is considering a new low.
Last week, they sent their London correspondent Janice Turner – an out and out campaigner for abortion – to Dublin to do an “analysis piece” on the referendum. Save the 8th agreed to speak to her on the understanding that it was for the London Edition of the paper.
During the interview, Ms. Turner repeatedly asked communications director John McGuirk if he would describe women who had abortions as murderers. Each time, Mr. McGuirk said that no, he would not. He did however say that abortion ends a human life – which it indisputably does.
Today, the Irish Edition of the paper signaled its intent to twist that quote into what it believes will be a damaging story. In an email to Save the 8th, repeal campaigner and Times.ie employee Ellen Coyne writes:
“Hello, I understand you did an interview with my colleague Janice. We are running the feature tomorrow along with a story on your comment below about parents who terminate a pregnancy diagnosed with FFA [Fatal Fetal Anomalies].
“I ask communications director John McGuirk if he thinks Jennifer O’Kelly is a murderer? He tries to steer the conversation every which way before finally saying “you would have to say, yes, she took a life.” He insists abortion is “a weapon of misogyny”, used by men who order their partners to get rid of a baby.” do you have any other comment you’d like to make?”
Mr. McGuirk has responded to the newspaper with the following quote: “I would be more than happy for the full transcript of my conversation with Janice Turner to be made public. I certainly did not call anybody a murderer, nor would I. Having a journalist ask you the same question 9 times in a transparent attempt to get some kind of a quote for this pre-conceived story is an interesting experience, but it sure wasn’t journalism. This is pathetic.”
“This so-called newspaper has been an arm of the repeal campaign for months,” said Campaign Chairwoman Niamh Ui Bhriain. “It has been the go-to newspaper for Simon Harris and his PR team, and they have repeatedly used it to push misleading rubbish out to the public.
Our campaign will not stand by while they attempt to smear someone based on a totally invented story. Abortion does take a human life – that is the point of an abortion. But to suggest that John attacked a named woman and called her a murderer is a despicable lie, and it is being pushed out there as part of this Newspaper’s self-serving campaign for a YES vote.
We have tried hard to co-operate with the Times Ireland Edition, despite their pro-YES stance, but time and time and again our efforts have been met with bad faith and overt bias. Enough is enough.”