The editor of national community development magazine ‘Changing Ireland’, based in Moyross, Limerick, has written to TV3’s chief executive, David McRedmond asking for improved treatment by the station of disadvantaged communities.
He has also produced a video response to the first installment of the ‘Breaking Crime’ programme broadcast on TV3.
“There should be a much stronger focus on the positive work being done on the ground, which ‘Breaking Crime’ barely touched on,” said Allen Meagher in his letter to the TV3 boss.His views are echoed in reactions to the programme’s focus on the capital’s inner city, with the National College of Ireland saying the “negative publicity will make us even more determined to work together… at home, in the creches, schools, afterschools and in the community.”
Established in 2001, ‘Changing Ireland’ highlights community-based solutions to supposedly impossible social issues. The magazine is based in Moyross which was referred to in the first instalment in the four-part series.
Mr. Meagher, speaking in Southill where the joy-riding element was filmed, said, “The integrity of that programme, in my view, was not quite what it should be. The car crime element provided joy-riders with over a minute’s coverage while failing to mention a project in the area that is successful in steering young people away from such activity. Also, that element of the programme lacked continuity, notably when at one stage a jeep disappeared.”
“We put questions on these matters to Donal MacIntyre through TV3 last week and await a response. We also pointed out there was much to commend in the programme. In the meantime, I have also written to David McRedmond.”
“I have asked that TV3 take on board the fact that there is far more positive action taking place for real compared to the miniscule amount shown for example in ‘Breaking Crime’s first instalment. There wasn’t a mention of the city-wide restorative practice projects in schools and communities that might help explain how Limerick is so much calmer in recent times.
The rise of the Limerickandproud hashtag meanwhile says it all in terms of the programme’s bleak presentation of a much-loved city. Columns by national press journalists Robert McNamara and Kehlan Kirwan have also highlighted the programme’s failings.
“We have additionally pointed out to Donal and the station that, for a programme supposedly looking at solutions to youth crime and poverty, there was no mention (certainly in the first programme) of the impact of cuts on community services while poverty was barely mentioned, never mind explained.”
“Donal MacIntyre’s well-intentioned work is overshadowed by the focus on producing film that is noisy and dramatic. A programme could have been produced – perhaps even more dramatically – that dug deep into the structural causes of poverty and crime.
“It would have been fairer had at least more time been given to the full range of activities that communities are engaged in to better their areas. That kind of work is going on nationwide.”
Mr Meagher has invited TV3 to seek new ways to balance the need for commercial success with their duty of care towards vulnerable people and communities and to focus more on issues and solutions within communities and less on the drama on the streets.
Mc McRedmond has in the past spoken of turning TV3 becoming a “centre of excellence” and of focusing on more home-produced content.
“No doubt, TV3 wishes to demonstrate that communities are close to its heart and are off limits when it comes to playing a ratings game with other stations,” said Mr. Meagher.
FURTHER RESPONSES TO ‘BREAKING CRIME’
Overall, the first programme provoked a phenomenal reaction. It was condemned as “unbalanced” by journalist and Limerick native, Robert McNamara, writing for www.examiner.ie. Columnist Kehlan Kirwan, also writing for the ‘Irish Examiner’ and also from Limerick, invited people to go for a drive around the city and see for themselves. He provided an itinerary for people curious to see the city properly (https://bit.ly/1ucj4rz).
The public led by local councillor Daniel Butler who is also a community worker responded on twitter via the #LimerickandProud hashtag.
In response to the criticism, Mr. MacIntyre said Limerick is “over-sensitive”.