Huge PR Disaster for Irish Freemasonry
Irish Masonry’s Grand Master Eric N. Waller boasted before hand that RTE television’s top religious programme – `Would You Believe’ on Irish Freemasonry would be the “biggest PR project to-date” for the Lodge. We were glad to be part of its thorough investigation into the religious credentials of Irish Freemasonry by the Irish television station. The episode was shown twice on RTE’s popular religious show. In it, they exposed the erroneous nature of the Lodge and many of the degrading practices within the institution. We believe Freemasonry in Ireland was exposed for what it is – a dangerous self-serving underground group and a spurious religious counterfeit.
The degree of impact the programme had is seen in the complaint of Grand Master Eric N. Waller in his Personal Report at the Grand Lodge of Antient, Free And Accepted Masons Of Ireland in their Quarterly Communication on Thursday, 4th March 2004 at The Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge. It shows the massive damage this programme caused to Irish Freemasonry.
Mr Waller lamented: “We were approached last October by the researcher for the RTE television series `Would You Believe’ and in good faith we agreed to participate in what we thought to be a factual, impartial documentary. TV cameras recorded the early stages of the opening ceremony of Grand Lodge in Freemasons’ Hall on December 6th. Interviews with six Brethren were filmed subsequently and a simulated Lodge meeting. A camera crew visited Carrick Manor Sheltered Housing facility at Monkstown, Co. Dublin.
We are grateful to all Brethren who participated in these events, especially those whose individual interviews lasted from twenty minutes to more than an hour. RTE chose not to use the interviews with R.W. Brother Robert Quigley and V.W. Brother Neil Fenton. Those parts of the interviews with R.W. Brother Archdeacon Brian Snow, W. Brother Morgan McCreadie and Brother Vere Wynne Jones that were broadcast, were excellent. These Brethren were honest, sincere and informative; regrettably RTE were not. This was never expected to be a recruitment video. Inevitably criticism would be levelled at us but the critic chosen by RTE was given an unfair length of time to present totally inaccurate, futile criticism. No intelligent viewer could have taken him seriously. Melodramatic film sequences depicting ritual from an unknown source, were misleading and not Irish ritual. A fact RTE failed to acknowledge. Our input into the programme demonstrated integrity, RTE descended to the level of the tabloid press in their obvious effort to be anti Masonic.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of non members who have expressed interest and support for us having seen the broadcast on February 19th while deploring the fact that National Television should sink to such depths to denigrate such an old, honourable institution as the Grand Lodge of Ireland. RTE have done themselves no favours. We have survived with dignity and honour intact having dispelled at least some myths and misconceptions. Brethren watching the programme must have reacted with a mixture of dismay, disbelief and anger that such blatant bias should have been directed towards us. If you have not had any personal involvement with the media, particularly press or TV, you should be aware that, while acting in good faith, we have no editorial input into the resulting newspaper report or TV programme, so these will rarely be 100% favourable and some criticism is inevitable. A success rate of 70% is success. We are not placing an advertisement which we have drafted.
Undeterred, we will continue to promote Freemasonry throughout Ireland explaining that we are non political, non sectarian, tolerant and kind to our fellow beings, charitable to members and the general public alike and we strive to maintain truth, integrity and high moral standards.”
Grand Lodge’s manifest anger at this programme highlights the great damage it had upon the Irish Freemasons, an institution in gradual terminal decline. This exposure certainly opened the eyes of many throughout Ireland that were ignorant to the internal working and true character of Freemasonry.
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