The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

'Dreary Ireland'

Anthony McIntyre • 24 April 2005

Daily Ireland, it seems, is not making the mark its sponsors initially hoped for. Its sales are said to be well below the daily average of 20,000 Mairtin O Muilleoir is alleged to have stated would be required in order to allow it to break even. Fionnuala O'Connor observed, 'Daily Ireland can't cover the Belfast-Dublin corridor, rumour has it, let alone sell Ireland-wide.' Some estimates have its customer pick up as low as 4,000. On its second day on the streets I bought a copy in the local shop. I didn't hide it up my coat on the way out even though the shopkeeper told me she had only managed to sell two on the first day. In another local shop a mere week ago, it was not stocked at all. Nor was my wife able this weekend to obtain a copy in some shops in town.

Last Sunday evening I happened to get a lift from a West Belfast newsagent and in the course of casual conversation he made the point that he hated having to do the 'returns', as he called those papers that did not sell and had to be sent back to the supplier. As he had broached the topic of newspapers, I asked him how Daily Ireland was faring. 'Two max,' was his terse reply. Thinking that two a day was seriously low, I asked why customers weren't lifting it. 'Provie mouthpiece,' was his nonchalant response. But, I persisted, these are 'Provie' areas; all the more reason for people to buy the paper. 'Nothing in it that isn't in AP/RN,' was how he parried me. Inquisitive, I asked how the Irish News compared against it. He said that he normally pushed 80 to 100 copies of the established Donegal Street concern each day. On the days when the paper's death insertions were dedicated to a local, he had no returns.

It was always going to be difficult for Daily Ireland to compete with the Irish News. A newspaper must at least do news, and news seems not to be Daily Ireland's strong point. Despite the professionalism of its lay-out, people buy their staple daily to read the content, not admire the design. Sports coverage features prominently but the paper's range of political columnists don't exactly set the place on fire. Being thankful for small mercies, it is a relief to learn that they only get around 300 rather than 800 words. I know many of the writers, acknowledge their ability but see the line wrapped so tightly around their necks that their talent is strangled. Recently some have been lining up to swell the ranks of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Leadership. Heretics beware.

Although aspiring to be both "national and nationalist" Daily Ireland's claim on this front was exposed from the outset as only being partially true. A unionist who had been asked to feature as a columnist initially accepted then declined after claiming to listen to Mairtin O Muilleoir state at the launch that his paper would not carry anything that would offend the nationalist community. Nationalist surely, but hardly national. To compound problems, O Muilleoir's contention that the paper is 'not a Sinn Fein newspaper or a mouthpiece for any political party' was left looking threadbare when Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin campaigned for investors for the paper.

Hammered last week in Ireland on Sunday by Cathal McCarthy, a commentator and newspaper reviewer for RTE, who seems to think Julius Streicher's Der Sturmer had more going for it than the new product, the most positive description to have come the way of Daily Ireland since has been that of an Internet wag who has taken to terming it 'Dreary Ireland'.

Despite the considerable downside, more sources of information and perspectives are better than less and for that reason alone the function of democratic scrutiny would be weakened if the paper were to collapse. While its message may be indistinguishable from that propagated in the pages of Sinn Fein's publications, it nevertheless asks questions of the state that can only be welcome. Where else will we find the case of Kathleen Thompson gunned down by the British Army in Derry 34 years ago raised? Its continuous questioning of policing structures must be considered essential in any democracy. However, if it cannot bring the same degree of rigour to examining the behaviour of the most powerful within its own community, its very necessary critique of the state will be dismissed as whataboutery.

In a sense any newspaper trying to articulate a nationalist perspective should be seeking to emulate the successes of the Irish Press when it was first launched under the auspices of Dev. Up against the Irish Independent and Irish Times there was space for a newspaper saying something radically different. Perhaps had Daily Ireland been launched to fill the vacuum created a decade ago when the Irish Press folded it may have proved a much more successful venture. It is a sad indictment of the autonomy of intellectual and cultural life within the republican constituency that the more creative and exciting writers are to be found in the Sunday Independent. Republicans cede such ground largely by default, in their willingness to permit creativity to play second fiddle to conformity.

Daily Ireland would seem to face a dilemma best summed up by one republican last week. His concise appraisal - 'a good idea in the wrong hands'.














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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

24 April 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Robert McCartney's family appeal to Sinn Fein
McCartney Family

Kevin Cunningham

'Dreary Ireland'
Anthony McIntyre

An Ireland of Welcomes Should Be
Mick Hall

Brian Mór

A Spartan's Story
Anthony McIntyre

* Election Coverage *

Martin Cunningham, Newry and Mourne District Council

19 April 2005

Another Historic Statement, Again
Anthony McIntyre

Two Heads Better Than One?
Brian Mór

Hope for A Democractic Avenue, Not a Dead End Street
Mick Hall

Irish American Support
Niall Fennessy

Street Fighting Man
Fred A Wilcox

Revolutionaries Have Set Up Dictatorship
Margaret Quinn

The Murder of Robert McCartney
Conor Horan

The Missing Ingredient
Ruairi O’Driscoll

Re-orienting perspectives: Bob Quinn's The Atlantean Irish
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Politics of Peace at an Impasse
David Adams

* Election Coverage *

Independent Irish Republicans Standing in All 6 Counties
Sean Mc Aughey

John Coulter

Gary Donnelly, Cityside Ward, Derry City Council

Aine Gribbon, Antrim Town Council

Patricia (Trish) Murray, Antrim Town Council

The Letters page has been updated.



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