come in for some collateral damage in the course of
an attack on the Blanket in the current edition of
Republican News and, since I have heard that you are
reproducing it, I wonder if you would be prepared
to give me the space to address the criticisms?
author, Mick Griffith, accuses me of writing a string
of stories, based on anonymous or pseudonymous sources,
in which "facts are not facts at all but guesswork".
If that's the case then Republican News is
doubly culpable because my stories are, whenever they
concern British collusion with loyalist, frequently
reworked, often without credit, in the paper. I don't
mind that but Griffith's lofty dismissal of myself
and other journalists, like Ed Moloney, whose information
Republican News paper has relied on uncritically
when it fitted their political agenda, is a bit rich.
of Griffith's own facts are not so much guesswork
as wishful thinking. To take a few examples:-
He says I have claimed the Sunday Times takes
a "robust anti-nationalist line". I have
searched the paper's online archives as far as they
go (which to 1985) and there is no sign of the phrase.
I can't remember saying it and I suspect it is an
the recent interview which Kathryn Johnston and I
gave to the Blanket was not an anti-McGuinness
diatribe. We do believe that the unprecedented decision
to arrest two journalists in the middle of the night
and batter down a newspaper office's door was in part
influenced by the desire of the authorities to impress
Sinn Fein and get it on the Policing Board. Personally
I look forward to the day, surely not far off, when
Sinn Fein do fully support the police but I am not
willing to be used as bait to draw them in.
When I was questioned by Special Branch about articles
which exposed FRU dirty tricks against nationalists
Republican News published sympathetic and outraged
articles. When I was arrested with my wife and held
for twenty four hours for proving Martin McGuinness's
phone was tapped there was no reaction, which is bit
shameful and a bit selective from a paper that is
constantly sounding off about human rights.
a favourable review of our biography of McGuinness
was indeed published on the Blanket website
but the author, Deaglan O Donghaile, tells me he is
not a member of Republican Sinn Fein. He is a former
member but then he is a former member of Sinn Fein
too. There are a lot of them about. What Griffith
does not mention is that Anthony McIntyre wrote a
considerably less favourable review himself and has
make a number of references to me on the website which
range from slighting to nasty and which can still
be found on the Blanket's search engine.
our book did not claim that Martin McGuinness started
the Bloody Sunday massacre. We, like him, blamed that
on the Paras. We cast doubt on agent Infliction's
claims that McGuinness fired a sub machine gun. The
record also shows that we put Martin Ingram, a former
FRU member in touch with solicitors acting for relatives
of the Bloody Sunday dead. Ingram's contribution to
the inquiry cast further doubt on Infliction's veracity
and provided evidence which was broadly supportive
to McGuinness. In our book we do, however, cast doubt
on McGuinness's account of what he did on Bloody Sunday.
We suggest he handed out nail bombs. We also suggested,
and continue to suggest, that the IRA has discouraged
its members from giving evidence.
we are giving evidence to the Bloody Sunday Tribunal
because we have been asked to so and because we are
legally obliged to do so.
to suggest that I have attempted to divert attention
away from collusion with loyalist para-militaries
is just plain silly. Exposing collusion has been a
major preoccupation of the Sunday Times. We
have the gagging writs to prove it, as a search of
the Pat Finucane Centre or British Irish Rights Watch
websites will show. The Sunday Times has a
strong record, stronger than Republican News,
on breaking stories in this area and persuading whistle
blowers such as Martin Ingram and John Weir to speak.
We also broke the story about the British army losing
Bloody Sunday guns and were the first to report the
allegation that a member of the UDA confessed to the
RUC that he had murdered Pat Finucane.
Mick Griffith would like to tell us how many gagging
writs and injunctions Republican News have
received from the Treasury Solicitors since 1999,
how many of its journalists have been arrested or
questioned under the Official Secrets Act and how
often its offices have been raided?
(Northern Ireland Editor, Sunday Times)
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