Popular DJ ‘dropped’ after stormy AGM

Sue Doherty

Reporter:

Sue Doherty

One of the south Donegal’s most popular radio presenters has been dismissed from a community radio station after raising questions at its annual general meeting.

One of the south Donegal’s most popular radio presenters has been dismissed from a community radio station after raising questions at its annual general meeting.

At the AGM of South West Donegal Community Radio (SWDCR) on February 26, Colm Kelly queried the way in which members were notified of the meeting and asked for a more detailed discussion about the station’s finances.

According to a report by Vera Cave in the Donegal Times, he received a registered letter last Thursday, March 8, notifying him that his membership and appointment had been terminated. He will appeal his loss of membership but not his dismissal as a presenter.

“The letter came out of the blue”, he told Ms Cave. The letter referred to his behaviour at “three successive general meetings” but he said he’d never received any warnings, either verbally or in writing.

Mr Kelly said the station’s website gave the wrong venue for the AGM, the Ringfort Inn rather than the Niall Mór Centre, Killybegs. He also claimed letters had not been sent out to members notifying them of the meeting: “letters had been left on a table at the station for the presenters”.

The Donegal Democrat understands that it was originally planned to hold the AGM at the Ringfort Inn but, because it was closed, it was decided a number of weeks before the AGM to hold it at the Niall Mór Centre instead. The correct venue was posted on the station’s website a week before the meeting, according to a source.

The source also said that it was never the station’s practice to post out notices for the AGM. Instead, the information was always given out on the station’s programmes in the weeks leading up to the date. “All the DJs were reading the information out for several weeks before the AGM,” the source added.

Mr Kelly also asked for more information about the station’s finances at the AGM. “The reason I asked the questions about the finances was because we were called to an emergency meeting in the Ringfort Inn in January and were told that the station had to raise €500 in ten days or the electricity supply would be cut off.

“At the AGM, the finances were brushed over. They were read out but there was no documentary back-up. I felt as if it was being polished over. It was difficult to get any answers.”

Mr Kelly expressed disappointment at his treatment. “My concern is for the future of the station. I have been involved with it since we applied for the first temporary licence, and it is very close to me.”

Station response:

When asked about Mr Kelly’s claims, the chair of SWDCR’s management committee and the station’s PRO Tony O’Callaghan made the following statement.

“In relation to Colm’s comments about the station’s finances, all I can say is that the outgoing Treasurer gave his report, which was unanimously approved at the AGM.

“It’s a pity to lose a broadcaster of Colm’s quality.

“However, I’ve only been involved with the station for the past 12 months and, in that time, Colm has been negative. On several occasions, he has made comments and published remarks derogatory to the station. In the opinion of station’s board of directors, that kind of behaviour is not compatible with being someone who represents the station.”

Mr Kelly, said of the comments: “If you ask questions that you feel are important and you’re not getting the answers, is it not appropriate to keep asking?

“After all, it’s a community station, run on a voluntary basis - and that includes all the presenters - that’s meant to be for the benefit of everyone. “So, which is the right thing, to keep asking questions or to say nothing and walk away?

“In any case, I wasn’t only the only one asking questions at that meeting but I’m the only one who has been told to leave.”

Mr Kelly, said of the comments: “If you ask questions that you feel are important and you’re not getting the answers, is it not appropriate to keep asking?

“After all, it’s a community station, run on a voluntary basis - and that includes all the presenters - that’s meant to be for the benefit of everyone. “So, which is the right thing, to keep asking questions or to say nothing and walk away?”