As those who follow me on Twitter know, I believe the Mail on Sunday, like the Irish Daily Mail, is an under-appreciated newspaper (wow, wow, lower those rifles, dear readers, I’ll explain).
People ignore it because oftentimes the substance of the stories they unearth get lost in the style in which they report. Of course the Mail does have some poor journalists but there are some seriously sharp hacks in there (it was no surprise that the Mail was the first national to pick up on the O’Dea libel story). Their work is often criminally slept on by the wider media.
People seem to think “ah, it’s just the Mail, can’t believe that”, where as if the same set of facts at the nub of the Mail stories were reported in the The Irish Times and written in the Times editorial style, they’d be discussed on every national radio show through-out the day. That’s a pity, but only the fault of the Mail publishers and top-level editors for setting the editorial line and agreeing the writing style.
Also, they don’t have a website, so they’re kinda lost on the whole Twitter/Blogs/Forum discussion which some editors/producers seem to use as a barometer of public interest in stories these days.
ANYWAY, GETTING to the point. On page 31 of yesterday’s Mail on Sunday is a piece about Frank Fahey. Brian Carroll reports that the Fianna Fáil TD and property developer failed to declare his 50% stake in construction firm Sage on the Register of Members’ Interests published earlier this month. Not alone that, but he had failed to mention it in last year’s Register too.
When Carroll asked Fahey why he didn’t declare the interest Fahey claimed it was a “clerical oversight”, i.e. he forgot about it. He forgot about holding a 50% share in company in which he has invested over €1m during the last five years? A company which still owes his wife more than €900,000?… Seriously? Upon receipt of Carroll’s enquiries Fahey rushed to the the clerk of the Dáil and asked for the record to be amended show he had an interest in Sage.
The fact Fahey admitted he had the stake in the firm and claimed he had forgotten about it kinda burned the story on Carroll, hence, page 31 (below a picture-driven piece about Angelina Jolie). Oddly, it would probably have been more newsworthy if Carroll had not gone to Fahey but instead got someone like Fergus O’Dowd of Fine Gael to give a comment. Or maybe asked someone like John Devitt of Transparency Ireland for a quote about the damage undeclared conflicts of interest can have on democracy, or the dangers of influence purchasing. But it’s always right to give a right-of-reply, even if you know it’ll ruin the story. It’s also possible Carroll did not have had space for alternative quotes.
Well, questionable stuff from Fahey, great to see him get a scare, no real surprise though. Might have to look closer at his declarations now.
Nice work from the MoS, and Brian Carroll particularly, in fact-checking the register and making sure things are how they should be. Credit where it’s due, no matter what else, or who else (and no matter their level of nakedness) appears on the page.