"Belfast's, big-headed bully-boy," as Mairtin
O'Muilleoir, publisher of the Andersonstown News (AN),
has become known here [Belfast], demanded, and was
granted, a right to reply to journalist Eamon Lynch's
column, "Andersonstown News: Voice of Banana
Republicanism?" published in the US newspaper,
I had read Mr Lynch's excellently researched and articulated
article before the "powers that be" - to
their shame - removed it from the Echo archives.
In the face of such cowardice and disloyalty, Mr Lynch
bravely and honourably resigned.
what had Lynch done to deserve this disgraceful treatment?
As his column title suggests, he questioned (rightfully)
the journalistic competence of an AN editor; as well
as truthfully exposing and criticising AN's autocratic
attempts to censor, demonise and marginalize anyone
who airs views that differ from its own, Sinn Fein-led,
agenda. Their latest tactic - threatening the use
of BRITISH LAW against those who, in their opinion,
give credence to "dissident" voices - are
aimed, exclusively, at the highly-respected journalist
and political analyst, Dr Anthony McIntyre who, with
his wife, runs an online journal, The Blanket.
Hence, AN's baseless libel threats against John Fay
and Sean Finlay (Irish Echo owner) for, respectively,
carrying two links to Dr McIntyre's articles; and
allowing publication of Eamon Lynch's justified criticism
stance today is in stark contrast to the one it held
during the disgraceful, British Establishment imposed,
censorship of all "dissidents," including
Sinn Fein, during the1980s. Then "free speech"
was AN's mantra. How times have changed! How easily
principles, once held so fervently by AN, have been
cast aside! And how shameful that AN now acts every
bit as ignominiously as the Establishment it previously
Mr O'Muilleoir put it, failing to note the irony in
his unsuccessful attempt to be clever, "Hypocrisy,
how are ye?"
brings me to his "reply" in the Echo.
What a pity O'Muilleoir's piece was not judged by
AN criterion - merit (which, incidentally, applies
only to those having the "temerity" to be
independent thinkers). Had it been, O'Muilleoir's
piece should have been disbarred completely, given
its distinct lack of merit! Indeed, it displayed to
a whole new readership just how journalistically incompetent
AN is, and the very reason it deserves, in fact needs,
articulate, rebuttal of Lynch's column it was not.
Lynch's accusations were neither addressed nor refuted.
Instead, "Emperor" O'Muilleoir confined
his "reply" to scurrilous lies and personal
insults against Dr McIntyre; as well as using it as
a platform for egotistic self-congratulations for
his little Empire in West Belfast. Perhaps O'Muilleoir
has yet to realise that lies and personal insults
are well known last resorts of scoundrels with no
argument, and that self-congratulations is certainly
appeared to greatly irk O'Muilleoir was Dr McIntyre's
spot-on critique of ANs so-called, "wide-ranging
interview," with Freddie Scappaticci, with which
I totally concurred. Indeed, I found the "interview"
not only extremely shoddy journalism, but also an
insult to the intelligence of AN's readership. Had
there been no quotation marks, I would have taken
it as a joke, a "send-up" of serious journalism
- akin to send-up movies, such as Police Academy
and Aeroplane. But the "interview"
has been criticised by numerous people far more articulate
than myself, so I'll leave it at that.
really bothers me is the fact that Belfast bully boy
tactics seem to have acquired the power to reach all
the way to the land of free speech, America, and impose
its censorship on previously liberal and reputable
newspapers like the Echo. From where does this
power spring? Certainly not libel laws, as a simple
reading of the "offending" articles, freely
available on the Blanket, demonstrates. And
certainly not from AN publisher, Mairtin O'Muilleoir,
a tinpot little dictator with ideas of personal grandeur,
but no real power. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I, for one,
see the hand of a much more sinister element, possibly
even one posing as a respectable Political Party,
breaking its neck - and principles - to get back into
Stormont. Changed times, indeed!
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