The Irish media: blast and counter-blast


Blimey. That was quick. I was talking to a good friend yesterday and mentioned the obvious headway, according to the opinion polls, that Sinn Féin were making in the south. “Put on your helmet” my friend told me. “Stand by for a media counter-charge”.  And ‘strewth  – this morning I tune into Good Morning Ulster   on BBC Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh, and right at the top of the news there’s a man saying in detail how he was in the IRA and he knows  both Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were in the IRA. He said it for quite a long time. So there’s a public service, and if you wakened with that question tormenting you, let it torment you no more. 

At the same time, it’s well to remember that times change and so do the thoughts coming at you from the media. Back in 1916  they didn’t have Good Morning Ulster but they did have newspapers. Like the Irish Independent. Here’s its editorial for 4 May 1916:

“No terms of denunciation that pen could indict would be too strong to apply to those responsible for the insane and criminal rising of last week… “

(The paper was owned by William Martin Murphy, who also owned Murphy’s Dublin Tramway Company, against whom a strike was called in 1913 by James Connolly.)

The VO said…It’s hard to know, really. Here’s its editorial,  4 May 1916. Maybe you can see past the inverted commas:

“The lives of all these victims ‘rebels’ ‘soldiers’ of the Crown and innocent members of the civilian community – will not have been sacrificed in vain if the people of Ireland are wise and brave enough to shape their future course in the light of the lessons that should be brought home to their minds by the catalogue of the week’s blunders, disasters, crimes and retributions.”

Here’s The Irish Times  on 10 May:

 “A desperate plot was hatched for the disruption of the British Empire by means of an insurrection in Ireland. It was put into execution at a moment when England and Ireland were fighting for life against a foreign enemy. That enemy fomented and helped it with arms, money and promises… Sir John Maxwell was entrusted with the crushing of this insurrection. His success, so far as direct military operations are concerned has been complete.”

(In the immediate aftermath of the Rising, The Irish Times urged its readers to stay at home and read Shakespeare. )

Fifty years later,  the Irish media whistled a rather different tune. Here’s The Irish Times on 14 May 1966:

“ It has been said ever so often that the Irish should forget their history. This is not true. They should read enough of it to be able to discern truth from propaganda. A well-stocked mind cannot be a narrow and is less likely to be a bitter one than when the mental diet has been a select list of prejudices.”

Here’s the VO on 12 April 1966

“When do the British journals that have given such space to the Easter Week Rising give their pages to the cause of a United Ireland? They have no deep sympathy for a free, undivided Ireland, now or at any time. 1916 has simply been commercialised in Britain. That is her way of paying tribute to the men who died for freedom.”

And while I can’t locate at the moment the  Irish Independent editorial, this one from the News Letter  on 18 April 1966  should give you a laugh:

“The members of the RUC have no easy task even in normal times; on occasions when the peace of the community is threatened, as it was yesterday, it becomes not only difficult, but also delicate. The firmness, good humour and, above all, the fairness with which the police acted all helped to keep the pot from boiling over, and for this every member of the community who values the better feeling which has developed in recent years owes them a deep debt of gratitude.”

So don’t get upset if the Irish media daubs a movement or a party in dark, satanic colours. When they’re faced with a different political weather, they’ll produce a much sunnier picture. Or to paraphrase Lyndon Baines Johnson, in a different context: history has them by the cojones; their hearts and minds will follow.



31 Responses to The Irish media: blast and counter-blast

  1. giordanobruno April 23, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    No doubt Peter Rogers will be dismissed as a drunk, a lunatic, or anti agreement.
    That is the usual response to such ridiculous allegations.

    • philip kelly April 23, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Peter Rodgers only got out of jail because gerry adams and martin mcguinness negotiations in the good friday aggreement the fact that he broke the green book rules by killing a member of the garda was his doing no one elses all he had to do was give it up instead he shot the guard and brought the republican movement into circumstance were the cause that people laid down their lives for was undermined he cant now come out and condem or try to undrmine the peace makers or the peace process because of his bad conscience

      • paul April 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

        Well stated and spot on

      • Liam mackel April 23, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

        I heard this interview on good morning ulster and for the life of me can’t work out what this chap is trying to achieve. Am I. being a tad cynical to think it could have some thing to do with upcoming elections. Surely not!!!

  2. Belcoo Bhoy April 23, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Interesting column as usual Jude. Just as an aside William Martin Murphy was a right wing Catholic capitalist who owned the Irish Independent newspaper and was also an Irish Parliamentry Party Westminister MP of some standing. Given such credentials one can only speculate on he would fit into the current political dispensation in the Free State. As for the brouhaha regarding Martin and Gerry membership so what. It’s trial by media once again. It’s seems that one can only pursue constitutional politics on certain journalists and broadcasters terms.

    • philip kelly April 23, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      it started last night rolling back the years 1975 and the troubles also charlie haughey just to even it up abit no mention that cosgrove still gets a100.000 euro pension from state

  3. michael c April 23, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    Jude Radio Ulsters have just “proved beyond doubt ” that Gerry and Martin have a case to answer.Apparently they “checked” with the Linenhall library and discovered that the two ruffians were not in jail at the time and wait for it: “they weren’t in Libya or America”!

    • Jude Collins April 23, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

      OK gov – it’s a fair cop…

    • Liam mackel April 23, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

      It really is pathetic that British security services can have a supposed well respected news outlet such as the BBC to run this nonsense and. Dry dangerous. .

  4. Cal April 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Despite the media attacks on SF, the party continue to rise.

    Some in our media should take heed of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.

    • neill April 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

      or people desire not to see the truth

      • MPG ..... April 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

        Look in before you look out! SF Abú.

  5. paul April 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    All so much election time nonsense. When will Peter answer for Clontbret? was Donaldson involved in any UDR irregularities? Ken Magennis? Their hypocrisy knows no bounds

  6. Pointis April 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Hi Jude,

    I think that if I were Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness I would give this story the gravitas it deserves, just below the news item of the elderly lady who had her cat rescued from her garden tree by the local fire brigade!

    Let’s set out a few important points:-
    1. It would appear from the evidence of voter opinion polls that those who vote for Sinn Fein or would potentially vote for them, are not overly concerned as to whether Gerry Adams was in the IRA or not!

    2. It is in the nature of secret organisations (of which the IRA was one) that members may feel it prudent to tell a few lies especially if the organisation has the sworn objective of overthrowing the organs of the state and has been declared Illegal with membership punishable by incarceration or worse.

    3. Christianity was at one time a secret organisation as was the Irish Catholic Church in penal times. Do you think many Catholics at that time would feel guilty about denying knowledge of the whereabouts of the local priest or hedge school to the local militia commander? I would think not, nor do I think many Irish people would think any less of their ancestors for telling lies to a bunch of bullying, murdering thugs!

    4. Some of the greatest figures in history told lies to protect their own lives, the lives of their family members, friends, or to protect their own interests or those of their country/ state.

    5. Those who claim to be most concerned as to whether Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness told lies would seem to have no love for them regardless of the facts and are never likely to vote for Sinn Fein. Why would he have any inclination to appease them?

    I would be disappointed if Gerry Adams chose to devote any of his precious time to massaging the egos of his greatest detractors. I will await the real evidence of the election results to tell the tale of Mr. Adams continuing popularity!

    • giordanobruno April 23, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

      Gerry Adams was the man who called for a truth commission.How is anyone supposed to take that seriously?
      It is fine to say “we will vote for him anyhow” but don’t expect others not to point out the emperor has no clothes.
      I don’t think this will impact on the SF vote in the slightest, at least not in the North anyway.
      To those who are not fans this makes him look like a laughing stock.

      • Pointis April 23, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

        Hi Giordanobruno, yes I would agree, he called for a truth commission. The thing is, we as a society didn’t get one because some of the interests don’t want one!

        After that point I cannot follow your logic!

        If I approach another team for a football match and they do not agree to play, it doesn’t follow that I should then allow them to take penalties into my my net and claim the points!

        The other parties to the conflict did not want a truth recovery process! End of story! How did they expect to get the truth? As you are probably well aware court convictions rarely provided the truth of what occurred!

        As regards to “those who are not fans this makes him look like a laughing stock” this May be your perception but there are many examples in history of those who had to endure the scorn and ridicule of their detractors in the greater scheme of things.

        He is a better man than me!

        • giordanobruno April 23, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

          I agree the other parties have plenty of reason not to want a truth commission. Plenty of skeletons in every cupboard.
          But this one is Gerry’s cupboard.
          Is there anyone on here prepared to say they think he was not in the IRA?
          The standard response of “we don’t care” or “media conspiracy” is not good enough when he has the gall to ask others to tell the truth. Does the hypocrisy not bother you at all?

          • Pointis April 24, 2014 at 12:21 am #

            Not good enough for who Giordanobruno? Can you suggest any good reason why Gerry Adams would want to indulge some of his most fervent detractors?

            I am sure many Sinn Fein members are scratching their heads wondering why people who are never likely to vote for Sinn Fein are arrogant enough to think that they should have any input into who leads the party.

            Gerry Adams suggested parties might tell the truth through the structure of a truth recovery process with agreed mechanisms in place for all. Surely you understand the concept of such a process? I fail to see the hypocrisy in that!

          • páid April 24, 2014 at 8:45 am #

            I think he asked other people toTELL THE TRUTH ASWELL

          • giordanobruno April 24, 2014 at 8:53 am #

            It is not good enough for the people he represents for a start. Don’t forget an elected politician represents all his constituents, not just the ones who voted for him.
            Not good enough for the rest of us to say:
            “I might tell the truth to a truth commission, but until then I’m going to look you in the eye and feed you the same old lie”
            And now we are told what many believed anyway that our Deputy First Minister is lying too. Or is that nobodies business either?

  7. michael c April 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Gerry wisely adheres to the old republican mantra of “what ever you say,say nothing” I’d hazard a guess that those who opened their mouths to Boston College are now wishing they’d followed Gerry’s example.

  8. chris flynn April 23, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Hi Jude,good article.If you have lived in the irish republic for over 30yrs and compared the irish press,times,and independant you would get the party view as follows.Press,times west brit and loyalist,independant f.gale.Each reporter answers to an editor and not very often do you get an honest story,but you do get slanted and biased stories.The media in this country are bought and payed for,our national radio and tv stations are totally biased in favour of f.gale and labour.Untill we have an open and honest media we will have corrupt and dishonest policitans and an unstable future.The blame lies fairly on the shoulders of the media.

  9. Argenta April 23, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Your antipathy towards the Irish print media over their treatment of Sinn Fein is well known.Are you suggesting now that the B B C (which features you a lot on Radio Ulster) is also part of this sinister conspiracy?By all accounts the reporter Shane Harrison is a well respected journalist who seems unlikely to have any particular axe to grind against the party.But I suppose anyone who had the audacity to criticise Gerry or Martin must be denigrated and their motives questioned.

    • Jude Collins April 24, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      The BBC doesn’t feature me ‘a lot’, Argenta – it just seems that way. I mentioned the BBC – and it is the British Broadcasting Corporation, remember – because it happened to be on an hour before I wrote the piece. It’s not any different than the newspapers N and S, RTÉ, etc. My contention is you will not find – Jim Gibney excluded – a positive article on GA or M McG or any SF politician in any national or even six-county organ. If you can prove me wrong I will be more than happy to acknowledge – nay, reproduce – the exception.

      • Argenta April 24, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

        Having read Brian Rowans articles in the Belfast Telegraph and his occasional blogs on Eamon,I would suggest that he is not consistently hostile towards Sinn Fein.He seems quite understanding of Declan Kearneys initiatives towards Unionism.

  10. michael c April 23, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    The bbc was little more than the RUC press office throughout the troubles.No story could be covered without contacting the RUC and presenting their version as the authentic one.No state killing could be described as murder and all presenters were forced to wear the poppy (and still are).

    • Argenta April 23, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

      Michael C
      What has that to do with the present story.Do you expect the B B C to suppress a story in the interests of the “peace process”?! In case you hadn’t noticed, it was the B B C s Dublin correspondent who broke the story.

  11. michael c April 23, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    The so called “story” was broke months ago by the independent group.Simply being regurgitated by the BBC at the start of an election campaign.

  12. playitagain April 24, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    The second time of being asked.

    Could you please enlighten me (us) what “VO” stands for.

    The Free Dictionary of acronyms shows 36 possible results.

    • Argenta April 24, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

      Venerable Organ.It’s Judes ironic term for the Irish News .

  13. paddykool April 24, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    Hi Jude :
    Just back from Dubrovnik …lovely place , weather variable…just missed the Seamus Heaney thing with Paul Simon at the airport….”the only livin’ boy i ….”

    You appear to have had a Gerry and Martin explosion in my absence…The electioneering must be heating up now. Gerry and Martin were still bossing all the the wee lambs about to do this and do that even though they’d they had both left the IRA or in Gerry’s case had never gotten the membership certificate….Some people wanted to shoot and bomb so they need to blame someone else for telling them to go on and do it….

    I think we’re into semantics now…..thirty years later…….

    1980? Was it ? That’s so long ago now …The year i was married….

    2004….now I’m a grandad. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and we’re all living a different kind of life.

    Back then we were on the cusp of the Hunger Strikes which brought the republican movement into politics. That very act muddied the waters and the media didn’t really know how to deal with it . In fact, it was all new to everyone, including the republicans. The thing is , it worked and slowly and very gradually dragged us from a physical confrontation between the two communities into an arena where we could argue our differences out.Gerry and Martin , along with a little help from the British Government and a few others made that happen….

    That very fact doesn’t sit too well with a lot of unionists who really need a bogeyman to whip up the troops.It’s easier than dealing with the hard realities that they hurt nationalists and received reciprocal hurt. Legitimising Sinn Fein removed that bogeyman so they constantly have to rake over the coals of a dead fire. The same thing is happening in the South with the elections looming.Sinn Fein are doing too well for the more conservative elements there.

    No matter what way they cut it , all the violent fighting republicanism is now in the past , every bit as much as World War Two or the Croatian War of Independence .I spent some time in a Photo Gallery run by a friend of my brother-in -law in Dubrovnik, over the weekend, and the appalling images , although beautiful in their artistry , were very reminiscent of the same kind of bloody imagery we all lived through here in Northern Ireland . Times have changed there too and the cruise ships are spilling boatloads of American and Japanese tourists onto the cobbled streets day and daily . Life moves on leaving the bombed out hotels with the missile -holes , facing the azure seas , for the cameras of the gawping rubberneckers ..

    Meanwhile over here there is still an Old Testament longing for some kind of revenge on their neighbours …..Some people want hands cut off.

    It’s not going to happen.Everyone’s hands have a little blood on them …