THE BRITISH FORCES’ NETWORK IN IRELAND: Part Six: THE PRUDENCE OF INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS by Donal Kennedy

The IRISH TIMES was losing money in 1959 and its sales according to (UNAUDITED) circulation figures amounted to about 35,000 as against 170,000 for the daily IRISH INDEPENDENT and 120,000 for THE IRISH PRESS. The SUNDAY INDEPENDENT and the EVENING HERALD complemented the IRISH INDEPENDENT. The SUNDAY PRESS and THE EVENING PRESS complemented THE IRISH PRESS. Douglas Gageby was appointed Editor of THE EVENING PRESS on its inauguration in 1954 and remained their before becoming Editor
of THE IRISH TIMES in 1959, the first Editor in its one hundred years of publication who gave his allegiance to Ireland.

The IRISH INDEPENDENT  was a paper which was nationalist in tone, its sympathies ranging from Joe Devlin to whoever led Fine Gael. It was ironic that Richard Mulcahy had stood over the smashing of its presses by the IRA in 1919, as he explained to Dail Eireann in 1922, to save its Editor from being shot by them for describing those who ambushed Lord French as “assassins.”  It was well remembered that the paper had called for the execution of James Connolly in 1916. It was more Catholic than the Pope and if a Parish Priest broke wind in Bantry its sweet smell of succ,cess was wafted through its columns to Mizzen Head. Nevertheless its news coverage was comprehensive and it had some fine columnists.

The SUNDAY INDEPENDENT in June 1959 had an interview with the Fine Gael Presidential Candidate, General Sean MacEoin the hero “Blacksmith of Ballinalee”  who recalled being chosen by the
Minister for Defence, Cathal Brugha in 1921, to lead an attack to wipe out the British Cabinet which was waging war on Ireland. MacEoin’s record did him no harm at the polls..He did very well, but was defeated by Eamon de Valera, whose Fianna Fail party was considered less accommodating to the British.

THE IRISH PRESS was founded by de Valera in 1931 and Fianna Fail came to power in free elections 1932 winning all general elections until 1948, regaining power in 1951, losing in 1954, regaining power in 1957 and holding it in repeated General Elections until 1973. Yet prominent commentators will tell you today that Irish voters could not trust their own eyes and ears but went to the polls befuddled by charlatans and fools. The IRISH PRESS was nationally inspired, anti-imperialist, clear-sighted internationally. Its readers were mainly Catholic and their values reflected in the paper, with none of the pietistic posture of THE INDEPENDENT. It was dedicated “Do chum Gloire De agus Honora na hEireann” the motto of the  Four
Masters who compiled the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland in the early 17th Century.

At home we generally had THE IRISH PRESS every day, occasionally the IRISH INDEPENDENT, the SUNDAY INDEPEDENT, and after its inauguration in 1949, THE SUNDAY PRESS. We often had the EVENING HERALD, THE EVENING MAIL (an old fashioned inoffensively Unionist -tinged, Dublin-only paper, and the  EVENING PRESS.

We never had THE IRISH TIMES in the house before 1960. Its ROLL OF HONOUR,, included the RIC DISTRICT INSPECTOR SWANZY who cowardly murdered Cork’s Lord Mayor Thomas McCurtain in his own home in front  of his wife and family in March 1920.

I never saw THE IRISH TIMES in the houses of my friends, though they quite often bought one or more of the popular  English Sunday papers, but never the Sunday Times,  THE OBSERVER or SUNDAY TELEGRAPH.Jump to Toolbar 

Everyone I knew listened to BBC Radio – for decades Radio Eireann didn’t come on the air until 5 PM, except on Sudays when the incomparable Michael O’Hehir gave every GAA Match the pace and colour of the Roman Collosseum in the time of its Emperors.

When Jack Lane discovered  “THE WHITE NIGGER” Letter you might imagine that the mighty IRISH INDEPENDENT GROUP would do the Irish people a service by publicising it, out of patriotic motives. Or that, in line its long cherished capitalist principle, of  “DOG EAT DOG”  that it would have exposed the spurious pretensions of the Irish Times of being an Irish paper dedicated to the service of Ireland.
 
But the owner of the Irish Independent Group had 57 priorities outweighing outdated, or, even, atavistic sentiment. He owned newspapers in many countries and  quite a few continents,
including Britain and its Commonwealth. To  expose the shenanigans of the noble Lord Goodman, and His Excellency Sir Andrew Gilchrist might do his business interests no good.

Besides, he himself had bowed his knee to the Queen of England, and been dubbed a Knight. He might be unwelcome at tables, Round or Rectangular, if he spilled the Beanz,. A former owner of the Irish Independent, William Martin Murphy, had been offered a Knighthood when a King visited Dublin. But Murphy would not accept it. That scourge of the Unions and enemy of Larkin and Connolly had a modicum pride in his Nationality and had even paid for a memorial outside a Dublin Church to the Four Masters, inscribed with the motto -Do Chum Gloire De agus hOnora na hEireann.

TO BE CONTINUED>

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