Its comprehensive and authoritative coverage of politics has been a distinctive attribute of The Sunday Tribune since its foundation. It is the Sunday newspaper which politicians and key decision-makers read first to find out what has been happening in the political world during the previous week.
An important feature of the political coverage is that it has always been truly independent and has never been tied to any political party or interest group. While the paper has taken a strong stand on issues as they arose, it was never the mouthpiece of any party or faction.
The Tribune has always held politicians and public officials to account and has frequently been critical of our elected leaders but its motives have always been to act in the public interest rather than to follow a narrow party line or pursue political vendettas.
There is an inevitable tension between government and the media and at times that has led to tensions as the Tribune refused to be satisfied by political spin. However, the paper has always striven to be fair to politicians while never shirking its duty to say what needed to be said.
The paper’s strong line against the government’s attempt to row back on the Freedom of Information Act follows naturally from its insistence on the maximum level of openness and transparency. Since the act came into operation the Tribune has used it responsibly in pursuit of the public interest.
One of the most important set of documents discovered through the act was the disclosure of the government’s plans for cutbacks in public spending after the election.
These documents were provided in response to a query from Tribune reporter Rachel Andrews and, while some of them were disclosed inadvertently, the motive behind the query was to keep the public as fully informed as possible about what was happening in the public finances. Through its use of the act, the Tribune was in a position to give the public vital information it would not otherwise have had.
Over the years the paper has had the best political writers in the country and has focused on bringing fact and informed opinion to its readers in a way that has not been matched by any of its competitors.
Its election coverage has always been unrivalled and it has consistently devoted both the personnel and resources required to keep the political coverage up to the highest possible standard.
Geraldine Kennedy, now editor of the Irish Times, was the first political correspondent of the Tribune. She was followed in that position by noted political commentators such as Gerald Barry, now the presenter of This Week on RTE radio, Cathal MacCoille, now with Morning Ireland, and Joe Joyce, author of The Boss, one of the best books ever written about Irish politics.
Political coverage in the Tribune has involved far more than the political correspondents. Past editors of the paper such as Vincent Browne and Matt Cooper, both now radio presenters, also wrote extensively on politics and public affairs and brought an edge to the coverage not evident in other publications.
While the political coverage has always been comprehensive it has never been dull. Through the JJ O’Molloy column, Tallyman and In Camera, the paper has sought to let its readers in on the hidden and often entertaining side of politics.
In line with its commitment to the highest standards of political writing and reporting, the Tribune has also published comprehensive guides to the results of the last two general elections which contain far more than just the election results. The guides also contain detailed analyses of the figures and lively accounts of the campaigns.