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Irish Examiner should hang its head in shame

category national | health / disability issues | opinion/analysis author Wednesday March 29, 2006 13:29author by Miriam Cotton Report this post to the editors

I don’t know the last time the Irish Examiner bothered to write about the subject of disability but it is a certainty that the issue is not a priority for the paper’s editors in the normal run of events and it has negligible coverage in its pages. For instance, if you compare its coverage of the subject of horseracing or business issues, disability trails well behind either despite its significance to huge numbers of people.

It seems, however, that the issue perks up considerably for the Examiner when it is associated with gunfire, criminal gangs and allegedly undeserved claims for disability allowance. Thus the headline blazing across the top of page 5 of today’s paper (29th March) over a story by Mr Jimmy Woulfe, the paper’s Mid West Correspondent, who must be proud to see the prominence given to his fearless reporting about Mr Anthony Kelly - 'a convicted Limerick criminal seeking a State disability allowance':

‘Anthony Kelly claimed E165-a-week disability allowance after being shot in a family feud. Yet in two years he spent E35,000 on five foreign holidays’

Make no mistake about what is intended by this headline: we are to infer that Kelly was in receipt of tax payer-funded disability allowance while lavishing expensive holdiays on himself and his family. But Anthony Kelly was never awarded the allowance - a fact that somewhat reluctantly and hazily emerges about two thirds of the way into the report, for those who trouble to read that far.

Is this an attempt to create hostility towards the issue of disability? Is it not the true motive of the piece to make us wonder how many Anthony Kellys are out there doing the same thing – to create suspicion about the number of disability allowance claimants?

Another inconvenient fact for Mr Woulfe is that Kelly has indeed been disabled by the wounds he sustained. And what is left unclear is whether the spending sprees that are referred to in the article took place before or since he became disabled.

Either way, the Irish Examiner now owes it to the substantial number of its readers who apply for disability allowance in difficult and deserving circumstances, to redress the disgraceful and insulting emphasis in their coverage of this issue. Whatever the truth of Anthony Kelly’s conduct, this sordid and insignificant story does not deserve the prominence it was given. For shame.

author by nerrawpublication date Wed Mar 29, 2006 13:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Jesus wept.

It's about a criminal trying to claim disability allowance and NOT a dig at disabled people. It is blatantly obvious that is what the piece is about.

And there is no way he should get disability allowance. He has ripped off tax payers, including disabled tax payers, for long enough

author by M Cottonpublication date Wed Mar 29, 2006 14:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

(I wish people would stop using silly names on this site)

Jesus wept.

The point of the report above is not the fact that that the story was reported but the prominence given to it in the context of the papers' overall coverage of disability issues. Can you get your head around that or is it too complex and subtle for you? And again - they guy did NOT get the allowance which makes the whole Examiner story even more pointless than it is. The headline, of course, suggests the opposite by implying that Kelly was leading an exhorbitant life while in receipt of the allowance - and that elision of fact and provocative fiction is the intended hook for the gullible consumers of corporate media. Nothing new there of course - the stuff of tabloidese everywhere - intended to create exactly the sort of knee jerk, self-righteous response as exemplified in your own comment above.

author by Emilypublication date Wed Mar 29, 2006 14:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I see the point you are making, its yet another attack on the disabled and on their right to receive support from the State. It was blown out of all proportion by the hack who wrote the story.

But... this guy Kelly is a crook who comes from a criminal family. Its worth wondering as to where the €35,000 came from.

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Wed Mar 29, 2006 22:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Criminals or the legal profession?

The legal profession is where dodgy earnings are laundered into cool clean cash with no tag of foulness attached.

I have no feelings about Mr. Kelly and his claim for disability. Unless someone wishes to argue that he didn't have the right to seek it.

The fact is he didn't receive it.

Miriam has hit the nail on the head with this piece in my opinion. The piece of propaganda she writes about is a piece about something that didn't happen, ie. Mr. Kelly didn't defraud the State in as far as seeking disability is concerned. It used his name to sensationalise the piece, and it's the only part he played in the piece.

One must ask one's self what was the point of the piece, when Mr. Kelly's part in it is negated?

It then becomes a piece about the disabled and the supposed prevalence of disability fraud. Racist propaganda and a piss poor version of it too.

author by John Ahernepublication date Thu Mar 30, 2006 17:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Personally I’m not too surprised as to the amount of coverage disability issues get in the media, be it the Irish Examiner, or any other tabloid out there. After all who wants to hear about “the disabled”, They are the minority. One thing I am surprised about though is that Mr. Kelly isn’t claiming disability allowance, I have nothing against the man and I know “stupidity” isn’t a disability, but hey if a person, irrelevant to his or her background sustains an injury which renders them disabled then yes they should be entitled, be it a physical or mental one, as to what category Mr. Kelly would be filed under, well that’s down to the medical profession to decide. I, a wheelchair user who doesn’t claim benefit from the state, have no objection in a criminal claiming disablement benefit as long as it’s not fraudulent, no doubt it will only replace their unemployment benefit.

It was pure propaganda, using a person who they themselves brought to the nations attention some time ago, and just to fill space, they falsely accuse him and try and drag his name through the mud, yet again. Only this time they link it to the disabled. Why not state that Mr. Brian Crowley, our fine upstanding MEP(don’t make me laugh), has spent € 35,000 on foreign holidays and claims his disability allowance and then state further down the report that, No sorry “we got it wrong again” “ but it would have been a cool story if it was true”. As we know, the juicer the headline the more people are intrigued by it.

As for the media in general, I think they should be held in contempt for the lack of coverage “the disabled” get.

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