SEVEN weeks ago, the Limerick Post newspaper published an article about an immigrant worker who claimed he was assaulted and intimidated to such an extent that he was forced out of his job at a Limerick Direct Provision centre.
On the same day, local human rights group Doras Luimní, published a statement on their website stating that the Limerick Post had no right to publish the worker’s opinion that the incident was linked to the fact that extremists had infiltrated the Direct Provision system.
The Limerick Post responded by stating that the immigrant worker was interviewed by both the news editor and the journalist who wrote the story on two separate occasions; that video and documentary evidence was secured by the paper as well as statements from other asylum seekers testifying to incidents of intimidation and expressing concern over increasing radicalisation among recent arrivals to the centres.
Doras Luimní subsequently released a second statement reiterating its claims and called for the article to be retracted.
They also notified the Limerick Post that it was facing the likelihood of a criminal prosecution for incitement to hatred and that it would also be reported to the Press Council of Ireland for publishing racist and defamatory comments.
Doras Luimní director Leonie Kerins said they were “deeply concerned by the publication of this article, which is entirely unfounded and absent of fact or evidence” and accused the Limerick Post of publishing it with no “context, fact or thought given to the implications of doing so”.
An orchestrated social media campaign urged its supporters to contact the paper in an effort to get them to retract the article.
This escalated into a call for the editor’s resignation and the castigation of the reporter who wrote the story.
Others went down the route of canvassing the paper’s advertisers to boycott the Limerick Post until the article was retracted.
In an article published on April 9, Limerick Post news editor Gerry Collison said that while the paper was a vocal critic of the Direct Provision system and the injustices endured by asylum seekers, it was also aware that the faults exposed in the system had created an environment where radicalisation is a very real danger.
Doras Luimní and director Leonie Kerins retracted their statements and apologised unreservedly for any hurt, damage or offence caused on Monday May 16.
by Daragh Frawley