Sir -- It is unfair of John-Paul McCarthy to smear the reputations of my two predecessors as head of RTE news, the late Pearse Kelly and the late Jim McGuinness because of their former membership of the IRA army council (Sunday Independent, Nov 27, 2011). They were both excellent and experienced journalists; before joining RTE Pearse Kelly had been editor of the Evening Herald and Jim McGuinness had been editor of the Irish Press. They never let their previous affiliations, or personal views, influence their editorial judgments.
Mr McCarthy does not mention that Jim McGuinness was succeeded in 1974 by myself, an Ulster Protestant and a former London editor of the Northern Whig, a unionist daily newspaper. I remained head of news for 16 years and I do not recognise his portrayal of the newsroom in the Eighties as being 'Haugheyite' or 'ultra nationalist'.
Like other sections of the media, RTE will always attract conflicting public views about its commissions and omissions.
Indeed, in the same edition of last Sunday's paper we had Mr McCarthy complaining that RTE was 'an ideologically congenial bolthole' for Trotskyists, Revolutionary Marxists, PIRA supporters, Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbanus while, two pages on, Eoghan Harris accused RTE of recruiting from 'a small politically correct pool' when 'a healthy national broadcaster should be full of non-conformists'.
Mount Merrion, Dublin