the Irish Voice ran a piece which attacked
a number of journalists who have on occasion displayed
the temerity to challenge the Sinn Fein version of
events. The Irish Voice is best known perhaps
for being an echo chamber for the Sinn Fein leadership.
It is widely believed that the Sinn Fein leader through
either his own column or the pen of Niall O Dowd sends
smoke signals indicating where his party is likely
to lurch next in its search for respectability and
establishment approval. Of those who read the Voice,
their number includes readers who wield more than
average influence. In todays piece the Andersonstown
News business boss, Mairtin O Muilleoir, was praised
for having employed his right to reply to an article
by Eamon Lynch in the Irish Echo, in a manner
which destroyed Lynchs logic.
is forced to wonder if the author of the Voice
article had in fact read Lynch at all. The article
penned by the latter was withdrawn from the Echo
archive in a sordid act of blatant political censorship.
It is possible that the Voice writer found
it somewhere without much difficulty, perhaps even
in the Blanket, but the Voice article
gave no indication that this was so. If it was in
fact read then the Voice writer has succumbed
to the wish being the father to the thought. O Muilleoirs
right of reply barely addressed the original piece
by Lynch and could therefore have hardly refuted anything
Lynch had to say. O Muilleoirs piece was an
exercise in deceit which becomes all too demonstrable
through the merest casual perusal.
can think what they like about the Irish Voice
- I might find Niall O Dowd revealing in his disclosures
of Sinn Fein intent but I rarely agree with his broader
analytical take on events. But in the papers
defence, when Gerry Adams used his column in October
2000 for the purposes of growing his nose longer than
it already was and launched a spurious attack on the
present writer and a co-writer, Niall O Dowd did not
hesitate to provide us with a right to reply. This
unfortunately is not a practice followed at the Irish
Echo under the helm of proprietor Sean Finlay.
right of reply that Sean Finlay offered O Muilleoir
was not in fact used to reply to Eamon Lynch. It was
employed to launch an attack on myself. I can hardly
complain about being attacked by O Muilleoir - such
is the heady stuff of political and polemical discourse
in the media. What I can take legitimate issue with
is the ridiculous content of the attack. But as the
Andersonstown News has a reputation for being
ridiculous I can hardly feign surprise at finding
it remains faithful to its time honoured tradition
of churning out nonsense. But what is puzzling is
Sean Finlays decision to allow his own paper
to reproduce a range of factual inaccuracies and then
deny the defamed person the right to reply. It seems
he has opted to take a leaf out of O Muilleoirs
book in denying the right to reply (which O Muilleoir
is no longer publicly prepared to stand over) in an
exercise which reeks of censorial intellectual manipulation.
where there is power there is also resistance. Because
The Blanket firmly believes that structures
of dissent and transparency are the lifeblood of democratic
thinking and democracy building, our ethos is resolutely
anti-censorship. And because the censors cannot close
us down they seek to isolate us within a hermetically
sealed zone out of which our views cannot make themselves
known to a wider public. But with a daily hit average
of more than 5000, and steadily approaching the 2
million mark - The Blanket has burst the banks
of censorship. And while Sean Finlay and Mairtin O
Muilleoir can sit down in a rich mans club and
wield their power to coordinate a strategy of isolation,
the internet has become a powerful site of resistance
to be utilised by those the rich would rather keep
silent. And through it both the strategic deficiencies
and duplicity of the powerful are quickly exposed.
while Sean Finlay may think that, aided by his wealth,
he has brought closure to the matter in his own favour
and that of O Muilleoir, The Blanket, with
absolutely no financial resources but armed with an
idealism to which Finlay and O Muilleoir are strangers,
provides a forum where a right to reply can be made.
Censorship is an open sore on intellectual life and
we are intent on picking at it until it bleeds and
purges itself of its thought throttling malaise.
the falsehoods that Sean Finlay is culpable for allowing
Mairtin O Muilleoir to peddle are the following:
of our vigorous support for the peace process, we're
being denigrated and attacked by dissident republican
Anthony McIntyre and his associates.
Andersonstown News is not being critiqued for
any such thing. The vast majority of newspapers in
Ireland - foremost An Phoblacht/Republican News
- support the peace process and I rarely critique
them. Supporting the peace process is an entirely
legitimate position to take. But the Andersonstown
News in its presentation of the peace process
views itself as a faithful purveyor of a certain authoritarian
line and actively functions as an organ of intimidation
and marginalisation on behalf of that line. Where
it has sought to suppress, bully and misrepresent
I have challenged it.
some time, Mr. McIntyre has been running a one-man
campaign against the Andersonstown News.
This has included his recent outrageous claim that
a very dangerous allegation.
I wage a one man campaign, or I have associates
who assist me as claimed by O Muilleoir. An Andersonstown
News editor informed the employer of Newton Emerson,
the satirist who edits the Portadown News,
that Emerson was updating his site on company time.
He subsequently lost his job. Did O Muilleoir's editor
not therefore tout? At no time have I alleged that
the Andersonstown News were RUC touts. That
indeed would be a very dangerous allegation. But it
was the Andersonstown News last fall which
labelled West Belfast man Charlie
Pollock a RUC tout. The sole evidence
presented against Pollock was the word of a faceless
and nameless source. As O Muilleoir would say hypocrisy
how are ye?
has used the libel laws against
us in the past.
This is a total falsehood that O Muilleoir made up.
It is not that he is mistaken - he is simply lying.
If not let him sue.
McIntyre is particularly disturbed at the way we
carried out our exclusive interview with Freddie
Scappaticci, the former republican British Intelligence
sources branded Stakeknife.
from a gross inaccuracy thrown my way, I am not in
the slightest disturbed by the interview. Scappaticci
should on reflection have every reason to be disturbed.
When more than anything else he needed Perry Mason
the Andersonstown News sent him Basil Fawlty.
For this reason the interview has become a cause celebre
for every West Belfast comedian. Rather than being
disturbed I have quite enjoyed the squirming over
at Teach Basil as they inanely try to describe this
impoverished clap-trap as a 'top drawer' piece of
journalism. True only in a one drawer world.
McIntyre rushed his fences by declaring Mr. Scappaticci
guilty as charged by British Intelligence.
At no time am I on public record as having stated
that Scappaticci was Stakeknife. I have restricted
my comments on the matter to stating that Stakeknife
exists but have refused to be drawn on his identity.
Andersonstown News was never involved in
any picket of Mr. McIntyre's home and deplores such
of the editors of the Andersonstown News was
involved in a picket on my home. This is common knowledge
in the republican community in West Belfast. Some
Sinn Fein members opposed to the picket have criticised
the particular editor for his role in this affair.
Where in the pages of the Andersonstown News
was the picket on my home described as deplorable?
O Muilleoir, in framing his response in the manner
that he did, sought to bamboozle the Echo readership.
our colleagues in newspapers across this city, our
journalists and editors put their lives on the line
to tell the news - all the news - which affects
the communities they serve. That has angered loyalist
paramilitaries - who have made death threats against
it was the Andersonstown News that allowed
a letter to be carried in its pages which accused
one of those colleagues of being a gatherer of intelligence
for loyalist terrorists - arguably putting his life
on the line. The maligned journalist successfully
sued the Andersonstown News for such reckless
there we go. 'Make it up Marty' has taken to feeding
the Echo readership the same diet of guff and
bluff that is dished out twice weekly as 'news' to
his tabloid's West Belfast readers. One can expect
O Muilleoir to attempt to fool the readership of the
Echo. Why the papers' owner should seek to
do likewise can only be a source of concern to those
readers who have relied on the Echo staff to
function as a genuine news provider.
two occasions I have e-mailed Sean Finlay, requesting
that I should have the right to reply. He has refused
to respond. Can he really claim to be keeping the
wider public informed of the full range of issues
that are raised by Mairtin O Muilleoir? Or is the
truth simply that he is an active player in an attempt
to dupe his own readership? On what grounds can he
justify his continued refusal? Apparently none, given
that he has evaded the right to reply issue like a
politician would a truth society meeting. At the end
of O Muilleoir's article Finlay insisted on the following:
'The Irish Echo accepts that the Andersonstown
News is an independent and professional newspaper
which is committed to the highest standards of journalistic
practice.' Come on, Mr Finlay - it is beyond even
your wealth to invent a sewing machine that would
make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews +
Letters + Archives