Sunday, 22 March 2009

Ice skater slips up with documentary on crime

Sunday Tribune

Donal MacIntyre's documentary on Dublin crime has been slammed as inaccurate, writes Ali Bracken
The show carried a number of wild inaccuracies, including calling Dorset Street 'Dorcher Street'
A scenes from the Bravo documentary 'World's Toughest Towns' which featured Dublin last week.
Donal MacIntyre
1 2 3 4 A television documentary which labels Dublin as one of the 'World's Toughest Towns' has been slammed as "wildly sensationalist" and contains lots of glaring inaccuracies.
The show, hosted by undercover journalist turned celebrity ice skater Donal MacIntyre, incorrectly states that one person a day dies from drug overdoses in Ireland; the real figure is fewer than 80 a year.
MacIntyre also claims that a sniffer dog was kidnapped and killed by gangland criminals because the animal was so successful in thwarting its operations. This never happened.
MacIntyre, born in Celbridge, Co Kildare but now based in England, returned to Ireland to make a documentary for British TV about gang activity in the capital earlier this year.
In the opening segment, the Kildare man says: "This is Dublin, my home town. I've come back to find out why the city I love is tearing itself apart. Dublin is in the grip of a gang war that is being played out on the city's streets."
MacIntyre begins the programme by "going to speak to the drunken hordes" about their views on Dublin and he soon informs the audience about the extent of capital's drugs problem: "Every day in Ireland, someone dies from a drug overdose."
However, Tony Geoghegan, director at Merchants Quay Ireland, which works with drug users, said this was incorrect. "There is an average of 70 to 80 drug overdoses resulting in death each year in Ireland."
Customs sniffer dog 'killed'
The journalist then continues his exploration of crime in the capital by interviewing customs officials about their battle to catch smugglers. Viewers are told by MacIntyre that a customs sniffer dog was "kidnapped from his kennel by suspected gangland criminals. Because he was such a threat to their business, they decided to kill him". No more details are provided in the documentary about when and where this took place.
The Sunday Tribune has established that no customs dog has ever been murdered in the capital or anywhere else. Ten years ago, a customs dog was stolen in Rosslare, Co Wexford, but was later returned unharmed, according to a garda source.
The journalist then begins to probe the ongoing feud between criminals in Crumlin and Drimnagh, and mistakenly comments that Drimnagh is in "north Dublin" when in fact it's on the capital's south side.
MacIntyre then interviews Sunday World crime editor Paul Williams about murders in the capital since the beginning of the year. "It's just f***ing crazy out there at the moment," Williams tells the camera while simultaneously talking on two mobile phones.
However, MacIntyre's most outlandish claim concerns the use of car bombs in Dublin. "The use of car bombs has increased 300% since 2007," he says. A Defence Forces spokesman said there hasn't been a car bomb in Dublin since the Dublin-Monaghan bombings in 1974.
"There has been an increase in homemade bombs, what the press refers to as pipe bombs, but these are very different to car bombs. In 2007, our bomb disposal unit had 98 callouts and there were 178 in 2008; only 27 of them were viable. That is not a 300% increase though, that's roughly a 100% increase and many of those devices were not viable. He's completely off the mark."
Throughout the programme, there is footage of army bomb disposal teams at work. The Defence Forces spokesman, who has watched the documentary, said "all of the footage used is of British army bomb disposal teams, not Irish."
Continuing his examination of the use of explosives in Dublin's gangland turf war, MacIntyre then travels to Britain to meet a bomb expert who shows in exact detail how to construct a homemade bomb and where exactly to plant it under a car for maximum explosive value.
"This is irresponsible journalism and extremely dangerous," said a garda source. "It's basically a lesson to any criminals watching how to make a decent homemade bomb. The whole programme was wildly sensationalist."
After attaching the bomb to the car, MacIntyre and the British bomb expert, Tony Lewis, then go to a nearby shed and press a button on a remote control to explode the car. However, the Defence Forces spokesman said the type of bomb constructed would not be set off by remote control: "A remote device would not have set that bomb off. It is done with cables."
MacIntyre also interviews a member of the Dublin Fire Brigade, officer Barney Mulhall, about dealing with violence on the streets. Mulhall says: "It was only last year that someone decided to go around with a Stanley blade attacking a number of citizens in the city. He got about nine people before gardaĆ­ got a hold of him. He was attacking people who weren't residents here."
Four stabbings, not nine
The garda press office said there was an incident last year in which four people were stabbed in the city centre and a 21-year-old man is before the courts in relation to these attacks.
"A Stanley blade was not used and it was four stabbings, not nine. They were random attacks; it was not targeted at people visiting here," a source said. A spokesman for Dublin Fire Brigade declined to comment.
MacIntyre also claims that Ireland's biggest criminal is John Gilligan, who ordered Veronica Guerin's murder. Gilligan is no longer involved in organised crime and has been replaced by younger and far more violent criminals.
Similarly, he claims that the Crumlin-Drimnagh drugs feud, which has resulted in 13 murders, is between 'Fat' Freddie Thompson and Declan Duffy. This is incorrect. Declan 'Whacker' Duffy, or "the Whacker" as MacIntyre refers to him, is not involved in the feud.
Fine Gael's justice spokesman, Charlie Flanagan, also watched the programme, aired on 10 March and again on 15 March on the Bravo channel, and said he found it "disappointing".
"I was disappointed that MacIntyre's documentary on Dublin was made for a foreign audience and depicted only one aspect of the city. Irish people are aware of the broader context of the gang problem in Dublin; foreign people generally are not. Therefore, I am disappointed that Dublin has been portrayed so negatively for a British audience," he said.
When contacted by the Sunday Tribune, Bravo said that they are investigating the content of the programme.
March 22, 2009

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