not often the closure of a newspaper is a victory
for the freedom of the press but that's exactly
what the end of Daily Ireland represents.
Truth and honesty were never to be found in its
pages during its publishing lifetime and, even on
its death-bed, it kept on doing what it does best
lies, spin, and more lies.
big bad Brits were blamed for refusing to provide
a start-up grant and advertising. That's a bit like
the IRA saying: "We lost the war because the
British wouldn't buy us weapons or train and pay
our volunteers, the bastards!"
sort of self-respecting, radical outlet would be
running to the Brits for money anyway? Wouldn't
it want to stand on its own two feet? Wouldn't its
independence be paramount? We've recently heard
a lot from Sinn Fein about how it's following in
the footsteps of Che Guevara. Now, imagine Che filling
in the forms for the authorities to fund a revolutionary
a tame, mainstream media organisation would be interested
in government funding in the first place. And that's
exactly what Daily Ireland was. How did it
change the mainstream media agenda? What revolutionary
campaigns did it fight? What stories did it ever
break that rocked the establishment North or South?
"Why playing Gaelic with the PSNI/RUC on the
Malone Road is so-oh radical by Joe Brolly"?
"Man eats mouse", was the final cutting-edge
front page offering. Now, if Daily Ireland
had survived another day, would the mouse eater
have been unmasked as a Republican Sinn Fein or
an SDLP member?
Ireland portrayed itself as some powerless,
victimised body. O'Muilleoir is a multi-millionaire
and it was Daily Ireland practising McCarthyism,
not suffering it. Time after time, the Provos' opponents
both of the constitutional nationalist and
republican variety were set up in stories.
Never once did a Daily Ireland article challenge
the Provo agenda. Even pre-1994 when the Irish
News was truly a censorious SDLP rag, the odd
story which presented the party in an unfavourable
light would make it into print. But then the Provos
have proved to be far better censors than their
columnists, to a man and woman, were 100% on-message
too. Some were, membership-wise, outside the Sinn
Fein stable. But they all were in absolute harmony
with that party's agenda. There was not one dissenting
voice, not one who wrote that just perhaps Gerry
wasn't God. Shame on them!
journalists who were hired were all B-team players
with not one name of quality or substance among
them. But that suited management. Anyone who has
ever worked with O'Muilleoir knows he's a control
freak and that his level of editorial intervention
in run-of-the-mill stories is colossal. Independent-mindedness
or strength of character wasn't a requirement. He
wanted malleable journalists.
in the end, they weren't treated very well. One
would expect that when a business, which prides
itself on its left-wing, principled credentials,
is closing, the process would be handled with sensitivity
and adequate consultation and notice. Not a bit
of it. Staff were given no warning. The announcement
of job losses was brutal. The Sun, the Star,
the News of the World or any right-wing rag
couldn't have done it better. While staff might
be heading for the dole queue, O'Muilleoir will
still be driving his new top-of-the-range Audi.
Christy Moore could sing 'Ordinary Man' in
Teach Basil any day.
Ireland didn't close because of a British plot.
It would have received state advertisements had
it secured the readership. It failed because nobody
bought it and its management don't have the integrity
to admit that. It was dull, tedious, unimaginative,
and woefully laid-out. It didn't sell anything near
10,000 copies. It's not just the unionists and the
Brits who can massage figures. Talk to the newsagents
in West Belfast, look at the real circulation figures,
and you'll see Daily Ireland's true sales
Anderstonstown News' Group have shown their
limitations. They can produce (with the help of
substantial British government funding) a local
bi-weekly paper full of advertisements, pictures
of Granny Gormley's 80th and Eimear's 18th, and
local tittle-tattle. But that's the height of it.
It was their own delusions that they were more talented,
more innovative, better writers, and had sharper
business minds, that led them into the folly of
Daily Ireland. They over-reached themselves.
Morrison would love to be sitting on BBC Newsnight's
couch on a Friday night discussing the arts with
the literati but he's not up to it. He's written
a few poorly selling-novels and a barely noticed
play but he's going nowhere fast. He's not even
Provos have long yearned for literary and journalistic
success but it constantly evades them. The nearest
them came to it was Frank Connolly but then he sort
of blew it when he was filmed at Bogota airport
with a false passport.
Cadwallader has been a stalwart - remember how she
shook Freddie Scap's hand at that sham 'press conference'
when Provo propagandists needed to portray him as
innocent and uncontaminated? But Anne hasn't managed
to grace the pages of a quality national newspaper
for almost 20 years now.
hasn't been much for those who remain republicans
to smile about in recent years. But Daily Ireland's
closure offers a glimmer of light. It shows the
Provos aren't infallible. Their finger isn't always
on the pulse. They can read situations totally wrong.
have thrived politically because they've had huge
help from the British through Blair and the
intelligent services and because the SDLP
was so incompetent. Anti-Agreement republicans,
with their disorganisation and bickering, have also
greatly contributed to Provisional success. But
Daily Ireland's failure shows the first chink
in the armour.
what turned out to be his last Daily Ireland
column, Danny Morrison ridicules 'dissident' republicans.
"I understand why dissident republicans bristle
at being called 'dissidents'", he writes. "After
all, it inescapably defines and anchors them as
being dissident relative to a much larger successful
republican organisation with which they disagree."
is nothing dissident about 'dissident' republicans.
All they do is remain true to traditional republican
principles. But neither is there anything shameful
in the term 'dissident' if it means that you are
not a propaganda-parroting, spineless apparatchik,
that you have spirit and back-bone and are capable
of independent thought.
Morrison makes much unjustified and some justified
criticism of 'dissident' republicans. He derides
them for not being able to "sustain a propaganda
newspaper or magazine". Very true, Danny. Now,
welcome to the club. And at least dissidents had
the self-respect not to go running to the British
government with a begging bowl.