Saturday 3 December 2016

Carey back on air after resigning as 'Times' columnist

Published 27/03/2011 | 05:00

Commentator and broadcaster Sarah Carey, who quit the Irish Times after being told her position was "untenable" by editor Geraldine Kennedy, was back on the airwaves yesterday.

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But Ms Carey, who hosted her regular Saturday morning show on Newstalk Radio, gagged herself from talking about the Moriarty Tribunal report in which she was strongly criticised. Ms Carey said in a statement last Friday that following a meeting with Ms Kennedy, "it was clear to me that I had no choice but to resign my position as columnist with the Irish Times".

The Irish Times reported that Ms Kennedy had told Ms Carey that her credibility as a columnist had been damaged by the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal and its aftermath. In order to protect the reputation of the Irish Times, her position as a columnist was untenable.

In her last column for the Irish Times last Thursday, headlined: 'Lying to Tribunal is Black Spot On My Record', Ms Carey wrote about her leaking of Moriarty Tribunal documents to journalist Stephen Collins and subsequently denying she had leaked the documents when initially asked by the Tribunal.

"Since then I've had plenty of time to reflect on the stupidity of my actions and feel genuinely ashamed about the lie. I should have admitted it straight away and for someone who preaches regularly about the necessity of honesty, it's a black spot on my record," she wrote.

"All of this was known to the Irish Times -- indeed had been reported in that paper by Colm Keena on Thursday, January 22, 2004, four years before they hired me as a columnist.

"When discussing my impending appointment, the editor made it clear she had no problem with my past involvement with Denis O'Brien, and would be happy for me to write about the Tribunal, as long as I clearly stated . . . that I had worked with O'Brien and appeared at the Tribunal. This I did."

Ms Carey's last column for the Irish Times also prompted a letter of denial from the former leader of the Progressive Democrats Michael McDowell.

Mr McDowell wrote: "In the course of her explanation of her lying to the Tribunal about leaking Tribunal papers to the Sunday Tribune in February, 2003, Ms Carey wrongly states: 'In particular, there was one letter from Michael McDowell thanking Denis for a £15,000 donation to the Progressive Democrats and saying: 'I will drink a toast to your health this Christmas'. Here was a £15,000 donation to the PDs that was being kept secret while I was enduring pretty aggressive meetings with the Tribunal over £4,000.' In fact, I wrote a short note on December 20, 1996, to thank Denis O'Brien and another Esat executive for a gift of some bottles of wine which they had sent me in the run-up to Christmas. My note did not refer to any donation to the party. Ms Carey apparently led the Sunday Tribune to believe that it did," Mr McDowell wrote. He continued: "Earlier Esat donations to the party, none of which was for £15,000, were handled by the party's treasurers and acknowledged in writing by the then party leader in the ordinary way."

Mr McDowell's letter was among a large number critical of Ms Carey and last Friday night, her editor, herself a former Progressive Democrats Dail Deputy, decided that her position was "untenable".

Sunday Independent

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