FIANNA Fail’s Cllr Michael Collins is considering lodging a complaint about West Limerick Radio to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
His complaint centres around a 10-minute radio interview with him about issues in the local election which was conducted by Seamus Hogan and broadcast more than two weeks ago.
However, when the programme was repeated that night, the Collins interview had been cut out.
“I emailed twice looking for an explanation but nobody has replied to my emails,” Cllr Collins told the Limerick Leader. “My belief is the cut was politically motivated. I believe I was wronged and it was done for political reasons, using Seamus Hogan as the scapegoat.”
Cllr Collins said he was told the issue was with the presenter but when he spoke to the presenter, Seamus Hogan said he wasn’t given any proper explanation either.
“I am seriously considering taking it to the BAI. The story doesn’t stack up that they were taking disciplinary action against the presenter for not being impartial,” he said.
Cllr Collins said he believed the complaints came from Fine Gael members. “Politics should be left outside the door when it comes to community radio,” he added.
He is still waiting for a written communication from the radio station, he said and would then consider bringing the matter to the attention of the BAI.
Meanwhile, presenter Seamus Hogan has also voiced his dissatisfaction with the way the radio station dealt with the row over the Collins interview.
He told the Limerick Leader that it was through a Fine Gael councillor that he found out there was to be a disciplinary meeting about the Collins interview.
And, Mr Hogan explained, he was given that information two days before the disciplinary meeting took place on Monday, April 7.
“How did someone who is not a member of the board know private information about me?” Mr Hogan asked. “I wasn’t asked to attend the meeting. I had no chance to listen to the complaints. I was not shown anything in writing. I should have been given a copy of any complaint, told who it came from. I should have had the right to defend myself.”
Mr Hogan said he was told there had been a letter of complaint but he never saw any letter.
Furthermore, he claimed, it had not been pointed out to him, if or in what way, he was supposed to have been partisan and breached the broadcasting code. Nor was he given a copy of the interview at the centre of the complaint, even though he asked for one.
Mr Hogan also claimed that the disciplinary committee had not even listened to the interview themselves as they had no disc-player at their meeting.
“Volunteers have rights too,” Mr Hogan continued. “I am not saying I am Bryan Dobson or Richard Crowley. If I made a mistake, if I overstepped the line, the proper protocol should have been followed.”
And he would like an apology.
Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the board of West Limerick 102, Mary Lee Geary, said she rejected Cllr Collins’ claim that party politics had been behind the decision to pull the interview. “It had nothing to do with what Cllr Collins said,” Ms Geary said.
Complaints about the interview had been received, she said, and she was happy they did not all come from Fine Gael.
She made the decision to pull the interview because she was concerned it could breach broadcasting regulations on impartiality.
It is understood a meeting on the issue took place last week. “We have dealt with the issue as best we can,” Ms Geary said. “We sincerely apologise to Cllr Collins if, for any reason, he felt he was a victim. That was never the intention and we now hope all parties will be happy.”