PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED? PRESS FREEDOM UNDER BRITISH RULE 1919 – by Donal Kennedy

 

 

Returning to Ireland after service with the British Army in Gallipoli, amongst other fields of slaughter, Major Bryan Cooper recalled:

“Personally I know that I have never experienced from my neighbours as in the eighteen months that followed my return from the army. To what it may be attributed I do not know, but if the spirit of Sinn Fein was not working in the direction of increased friendliness between Irishmen of different religions and political views, at least it was doing nothing to make ancient differences more bitter.”

The major held and had inherited a huge estate in Sligo which his family had held for centuries, and had been elected as (Unionist) MP for South Dublin in 1910.

In April 1919 the Major was appointed, by the British, as Press Censor and suppressed nationalist and republican papers.

But the British abolished the role of Press Censor. 

Erskine Childers, who had also served with the British Army in the Great War observed :

“Soldiers had taken over the duties of the civilian censor whose powers were deemed to be inadequate”. He added “An editor now first becomes aware that he has offended the authorities by the arrival at his door of a lorry bristling with bayonets. An expert in the sabotage of machinery is included and the owner can only save his business by  signing an undertaking never to publish anything which is an offence…………servility to the (Dublin) Castle regime   is the only alternatives before him”

 

I’ll comment on the implications of the above on current establishment interpretations of our history in another BLOG.

 

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