Tim Vaughan was responding to angry protests voiced on local radio in Limerick and social media yesterday.
One of the strongest critics was Tom Felle, head of the University of Limerick’s journalism course.
He told Limerick radio station, Live 95FM: “This is a scandalous attempt to piggy-back on the reputation of the city of Limerick.”
Mr Vaughan said the controversy seemed to stem from a mistaken belief that the investigation focussed solely on Limerick, and was, therefore, in some way reinforcing a negative image of the city.
He insisted this was not the case and the investigation focused on crime figures from all over the country on a county-by- county basis.
It will enable the comparison of figures across crime categories over a four-year period, within counties, down to individual Garda divisions.
“We wanted to look behind the headline figures and analyse crime trends county by county, the results of which will be published in a special supplement on Thursday, Jun 13.”
The billboard campaign promoting the investigation was rolled out this week in each of the Munster counties. As the anger and protests were aired on local radio in Limerick and on social media yesterday, one of the Irish Examiner’s billboards was torn down.
The billboard was also heavily criticised by another UL lecturer, Stephen Kinsella, who said he would complain it to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland.
However, Mr Vaughan defended the campaign: “Crime is a worry and a serious issue for people in every village, town and city in the country, and came particularly into focus with declining garda resources and the closure of garda stations.
“We would like to believe that the results of this investigation could lead to a better informed debate on a significant national issue.”
Serious investigations into important social issues are a trademark of the Irish Examiner, and this one is no different, Mr Vaughan said.
“Years before last week’s really excellent RTÉ investigation into creches, we had unearthed and exposed the shocking reality of what was going on in the nation’s creches.
“Similarly, we have tackled the real horror story that blights the lives of tens of thousands of women — domestic violence. Next week’s crime investigation treats a serious issue in a serious, factual manner, and it’s not, as some people mistakenly argue, an attempt to ‘do down’ anywhere,” he said.
Regarding Mr Felle’s comments, Mr Vaughan said: “I would have expected a lecturer in journalism to check his facts and get the full story before making ill-informed comments like he did.”
The paper’s Munster billboard campaign depicts images readily identifiable with each county, such as St Patrick’s Street in Cork, St John’s Castle in Limerick, the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary, and Ross Castle in Kerry.