FROM ‘THE IRISH TIMES:PAST AND PRESENT’ by John Martin Belfast Historical Society 2008 distributed by Athol Books – by Donal Kennedy


from the back cover

“..a very fine journalist, an excellent man, but on Northern questions a renegade or white nigger.”

Those were the words from a conversation with the British Ambassador to Ireland at a lunch meeting in 1969, which he duly reported without delay to his masters at the British  Foreign Office. But who said them and to whom they refer?

According to the British Ambassador, it was Major McDowell, the Chief Executive and a Director of  The Irish Times who made those comments about Douglas Gageby, the most successful Editor in the history of that Newspaper,

This conversation between the British Ambassador and Major McDowell forms the starting point of this book, which is the history of The Irish Times from 1859 to the present day.

A history of The Irish Times cannot avoid also being a history of the Anglo-Irish and their response to a number of developments: the rise of Irish nationalism in the 19th Century; the Treaty and the consolidation of the Republic in the 26th Counties.

100 years after its foundation  The Irish Times had reconciled itself to the new Irish State. It appeared that its Anglo-centric view of the Irish nation was moribund. And its new Editor Douglas Gageby was intent on rescuing the paper from oblivion by bringing it into the mainstream.

But then war broke out in Northern Ireland in 1969 and all bets were off. A crisis was precipitated in Irish nationalism and the Irish Times found a new role for itself, which was not much different from the traditional one. Gageby was ousted, though returning for a time to rescue the paper again from the consequences of it political agenda.

The author lays bare the power structure of the newspaper which insists on transparency and openness for all other institutions in Irish life, but draws a discreet veil over is own activities. The Directors of the paper, along with its Editor, have to swear an Oath of Secrecy before a Commissioner for Oaths each year.

This book is essential for understanding one of the most important institutions in Irish life and therefore the dynamics of Irish life itself.

End of quotations from the back cover.

Lord Goodman’s role is referred to on page 162 and his reputation in the Sunday Times as Mr Wilson’s favourite  “Mr Fixit” as “The Most Powerful Man in Britain.” HE is also mentioned on page 234.

Comments are closed.