“It would be a question of the utmost public concern if an undercover officer were effectively permitted to operate without justification, authorisation or oversight in Ireland.”
News Release - Issued by Shell to Sea - April 12th, 2015 - For immediate release
-- Shell to Sea send submission on RTE's Public Service Statement --
Shell to Sea have today sent in a submission to RTE as part of RTE's public consultation on the updating of their Public Service Statement . In the submission, Shell to Sea claimed that RTE had failed to inform the public in an honest and balanced manner on the Corrib Gas project.
In the submission nine examples of RTE bias over the course of the more than decade long community campaign against the Corrib Gas project were highlighted.
One of the examples given related to the so-called “Garda Rape tape” over which RTE were forced by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to issue an apology, after a news item broadcast on July 28th 2011 was deemed by the BAI to be “inaccurate”, “unfair” and “harmful” to a Corrib campaigner. This related to Gardaí being inadvertently recorded joking about threatening to rape the two women who were in their custody. At the time of the incident the Garda Commissioner acknowleged the incident had happened and apologised for the incident occurring. Despite this RTE subsequently attempted to create the impression that the recording of the incident had been “altered” or “tampered with”. 
Another example highlighted in the submission quoted retired RTE producer Betty Purcell, who worked with RTE for 33 years.
Betty Purcell stated "I proposed and scheduled in that year  twenty one, “Would you Believe”'s; the only programme where I was called up to offices and matted on was the programme “Living on the Edge” [focused on Willie & Mary Corduff] which provoked fear and investigation by RTE management. .... Within a month of the programme being accepted as ready for broadcast I was moved out of documentaries to the Arts programme 'The View' “. Betty Purcell also claimed that it was her belief that Shell personnel appeared to have ‘automatic access’ to senior management in RTE.
Betty Purcell also stated while speaking at an Airing Erris event in Co Mayo: “Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald commented in “Analysing Media Depictions” and I think it's a great quote and very relevant to us here “One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, "style" and even mental health of those who challenge them. This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society's most powerful factions and their institutions.” And to me that's exactly what happened in the period between 2005 and right through 2008, 2009, when the real demonisation was going on.” 
Commenting on the RTE submission Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington stated “RTE did little to provide balanced reporting on the Shell/corrib project; it's no wonder that it's often referred to as 'Radio Pravda' “.
Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway stated "RTE reporting shows clearly that they weren't interested in their viewers knowing the facts of what has gone on with the Corrib Gas Project."
The Shell to Sea submission is available at: http://www.shelltosea.com/sites/default/files/images/RTE_submission.rtf
 RTE Public Service Statement: http://www.rte.ie/about/en/serving-our-audience/2015/0306/685100-rte-public-service-statement/
 RTE ordered to broadcast apology for coverage ‘harmful’ to women in Corrib Garda ‘rape’ recording case – Dublin Shell to Sea – Press Release - http://www.shelltosea.com/content/rte-apology
 Airing Erris - 18th Jan 2014 – Betty Purcell's submission starts after 10 minutes - http://livestream.com/AtlanticStream/events/2700520
Shell to Sea Submission
RTE failed to truthfully inform the public on Shell/Corrib
We in Shell to Sea, having had over a decade's experience of RTE coverage of the Corrib Gas project, contend that RTE has failed to inform the public in an honest and balanced manner. At times RTE has deliberatly misled the public in relation to aspects of the Shell/Corrib Gas project and the protests against it. We believe that RTE, in its coverage of Shell/Corrib, has failed to be “responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole community, be mindful of the need for understanding and peace within the whole island of Ireland", as set out under Article 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009. We also contend that RTE has failed to “uphold the democratic values enshrined in the Constitution, especially those relating to rightful liberty of expression". 
RTE News & Current Affairs programmes have consistently sought to portray the protests against the Shell/Corrib Gas project as unreasonable and radical and have ignored or downplayed the concerns the community have in relation to the project. RTE has never emphasised the siting of the refinery as a central concern of the community; this despite the first Bord Pleanala Inspector Kevin Moore labelling the location as "the wrong site". 
Shell to Sea also contend that there is an obvious conflict of interest with RTE, in that the Minister with responsiblity for RTE is also the Minister for Energy, who has responsibilty for developing Ireland's resource extraction industry. Succesive Ministers have pandered to the wishes of the Shell/Corrib developers and this has given rise to, at the very least, the perception that RTE bows to political pressure to follow a pro-developer bias. The Minister for Energy selects 10 of the 12 members of the Board of RTE.
Some examples of RTE bias in relation to Shell/Corrib are:
- On the 7th December 2011, RTE was ordered by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to broadcast what RTE called a correction to one of its news reports. The report in question was broadcast by RTE's crime correspondent Paul Reynolds on July 28th 2011 and was deemed by the BAI to be “inaccurate”, “unfair” and “harmful” to a Corrib campaigner. The campaigner had been arrested and subsequently Garda had been inadvertently recorded joking about threatening to rape the two women who were in their custody. At the time of the incident the Garda Commissioner acknowleged the incident had happened and apologised for the incident ocurring. Despite this RTE subsequently attempted to create the impression that the recording of the incident had been “altered” or “tampered with”. What agenda is the national broadcaster pursuing when it attempts to use such a case of obvious State agency wrongdoing to attempt to undermine a community campaign and campaigner? [3, 4]
- Retired RTE producer Betty Purcell, who worked with RTE for 33 years addressed a seminar called Airing Erris in January 2014 and stated “I proposed and scheduled in that year 21, “Would you Believe”'s; the only programme where I was called up to offices and matted on was the programme “Living on the Edge” [focused on Willie & Mary Corduff] which provoked fear and investigation by RTE management. I was called in by my head of department and I was asked to justify the programme. I was told it would be scrutinised for balance, the legal department would need time to look at the programme and make changes if necessary.... Within a month of the programme being accepted as ready for broadcast I was moved out of documentaries to the Arts programme 'The View' “.
Betty Purcell also claimed that it was her belief that Shell personnel appeared to have ‘automatic access’ to senior management in RTE. Betty Purcell also stated: “Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald commented in “Analysing Media Depictions” and I think it's a great quote and very relevant to us here “One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, "style" and even mental health of those who challenge them. This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society's most powerful factions and their institutions.” And to me that's exactly what happened in the period between 2005 and right through 2008, 2009, when the real demonisation was going on.” 
- The Pipe by Risteard O Domhaill is a film focusing on the communitys' struggle against the Shell/Corrib Gas project. It has received numerous film awards from places as far away as Japan, Iceland, USA, Qatar, Germany, India as well as winning an IFTA for Best Documentary 2011. Despite this it has never been shown on RTE television. It has been shown on TG4 and TV3.
Veteran Guardian journalist Ed Vulliamy speaking on Tonight with Vincent Browne on the power of The Pipe stated "And as soon as I saw The Pipe I wanted to meet these people. What more extraordinary image than a man bobbing up and down on his fishing boat trying to lay lobster pots relaying radio messages to the biggest pipe laying vessel in the world. I mean this is epic in its way. Why has it been not covered and why has it been covered in the way it has is anybody's guess but if it is to do with the influence of corporate pubic relations, and the cogency should we say to use the polite term of Shell, within this kind of nexus that connects the media the corporate world and politics in this country, then that might go someway to explaining things”
"This is one of the most important stories of its kind in Europe."
The question remains why is the State broadcaster continuing to refuse to show one of the most important documentaries made in Ireland in the last decade?
Journalist William Hederman in a paper entitled “Why journalists are afraid of covering the Corrib Gas project” detailed how, on the 14th April 2012 Marian Finuance was hosting a discussion on Michael Dwyer, a young Irishman who was shot in Boliva by security forces in 2009.  Mr Hederman details how he sent in the text “Michael clearly didn’t know what he was getting into. It was dangerous people he met on the Corrib Gas project who led him into a dangerous situation.”
However the text that Marian Finuance read out was: “Michael clearly didn’t know what he was getting into. It was dangerous people he met who led him into a dangerous situation.”
She had read out the text without the words "on the Corrib Gas project".
Two immediate questions that this obvious distortion and censorship raises are: How many more times have questions, points of view or statements been altered or censored to save the Shell/Corrib Gas project being portrayed in a bad light?
On the 27th November 2006, then Shell to Sea spokesperson Mark Garavan submitted a complaint regarding a Primetime programme which had recently focused on Shell/Corrib. For this programme, RTE, along with the Irish Independent had conducted an opinion poll. However one of the poll findings was excluded by RTE – t e one which showed that just 29% of those questioned supported the Bellanaboy refinery site. The complaint also referred to the fact that, despite assurances given to the contrary, the panel discussion had been edited. Mark Garavan had also stated that the panel discussion section was stopped at the request of a Shell representative and the bits he requested were edited out.
Local campaigner PJ Moran recalled the incident at Airing Erris in 2014.
"And so then she had to stop the program and restart it, because John Egan [Shell PR representative and ex-RTE journalist] was embarrassed. So that was fine, it went out and it was all edited. So the next day, they rang me again, one of the editors of the programme [Primetime], apologising for what way the programme was done, and I said to him what are you apologising for, so then he didn't know, he didn't want to say what they had done in so many words."
Justice and peace NGO Afri accused RTE of censoring its attempt to publicise an event after RTE initially refused to broadcast an ad for the Afri event because it contained the word "Rossport". Previously RTE had said that it had "difficulties" with the wording of an advertisement of Afri's annual famine walk because of the reference to Rossport. How can RTE claim to be "responsive to the interests and concerns of the whole community" when it is too afraid to broadcast the name of a townland in which people opposed the plans of an oil multi-national?
One notable feature of RTE's news reporting is the extremely selective reporting on court cases involving Shell/Corrib campaigners. For instance when Judge Mary Devins ordered in Belmullet District Court that Maura Harrington be jailed and that a “psychiatric assement” be carried out on her, that was reported by RTE on every news bulletin that day. Similarly, when Pat O'Donnell was being jailed in Castlebar Circuirt Court, RTE journalist Jim Fahey turned up to report the insulting words of the judge (the only time his presence was ever noted at a Shell/Corrib related court case). Contrast this to the fact that at a Special Sitting of Shell/Corrib protest cases in Belmullet District Court in March 2010, of the 27 people who appeared on charges, 25 peoples' cases were either dismissed or withdrawn. RTE failed to mention this highly unusual week of cases. Table Human Rights Observers saw fit to publish a report focused on these cases.
Again in February 2012, another Special Sitting of Shell/Corrib protest cases in Belmullet District Court, saw 19 people face charges for their protest activities. RTE again failed to report on this, and indeed no journalist saw fit to attend any part of this memorable week of cases.
Willie Corduff won the Goldman Environmental Award in 2007, which is known as the “Nobel green prize”. He travelled to America to receive the award and was interviewed at length by the BBC in the aftermath of winning the prize. RTE, along with the rest of the State agencies all but ignored the award despite it being the first and only time that an Irish person has been awarded the prize.
RTE has consistently attempted to play up the importance of the Shell/Corrib Gas project to Ireland's energy need. RTE commonly states “the project will supply 60% of Ireland's gas needs”. What Shell has claimed is that Corrib gas “will supply up to 60% of Ireland’s gas needs during peak production and is estimated to have a field life of between 15 and 20 years.” Of course, “peak production” will be a brief spike. If Shell’s figures are accurate, a field life of 20 years would see Corrib gas supplying just 15% of Ireland’s gas needs over its lifetime.
Contrast this to RTE's failure to report that the Commission for Energy Regulation had stated that energy price rises would be “very likely” if the Corrib field comes ashore .
A video with some of the examples listed above is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUUa1xptaPk