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Sunday 26 February 2006

What's the job of an RTE polical editor, exactly?

WELL, it being the State broadcasting service, paid for by Sean Citizen, you might have thought that whatever a political editor's private opinions, he would at least try to appear non-partisan.

So what's going on with Eoin O Murchu, Eagrai Polaitiochta of Raidio na Gaeltachta, who writes - "in a personal capacity" - a column in Vincent Browne's Village? "Criminality," he told us in January, "is the latest buzz word designed to thwart the peace process."

However, the big issue "is about the rights of the nationalist community in the North to be free of British military occupation, surveillance and repression, to have a police force that treats them with respect and equality, to have an honest judicial system, to be free from discrimination in employment and economic prospects, to be free to develop their language and culture, to be equal citizens with the right to pursue the legitimate aspiration of a United Ireland".

Yet, fearful of the electoral threat of Sinn Fein, Irish political parties are ignoring the rights of nationalists without votes.

There is unrest in the Sinn Fein rank-and-file, he tells us another week, because "all the concessions that Republicans [note capital letter] have made in terms of conceding a Six County Assembly and institutions have been thrown back in their face. The Northern talks can and must be written off, given Dublin's compliance with Paisley's rejectionism".

More cheerfully, the following week, he considers how Sinn Fein's "well-researched, down-to-earth policies on transport, housing, childcare and, above all, health" should be financed. (Abracadabra: soak the rich.)

And so on and so on. RTE's apparent unconcern about their employee's activities also foxes me.

Perhaps Browne doesn't read the column. Who did he invite to his RTE 1 programme to provide the centrist voice in a discussion between Sinn Fein's Aonghus O Snodaigh and the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson about the International Monitoring Commission's report? You got it. The bould O Murchu.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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