The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Andersonstown News Moves To Censor The Blanket

The editor over at Teach Basil will display neither fortitude nor commitment to his project when the chips are down.
There are more balls in the Women’s Coalition

Read the articles the Andersonstown News doesn't want you to!
Stalinville and Send in the Sandbag

Anthony McIntyre • 29.05.03

Today in a blatant attempt at suppressing The Blanket, the Andersonstown News threatened libel action against a popular and respected website that hosts on a daily basis a wide range of newspaper articles offering commentary and analysis on Northern Irish affairs. Consequently, the website in question felt sufficiently pressurised to remove two links it had carried taking readers to articles on The Blanket. This was not because the articles were considered necessarily libellous by the site in question but because the site manager is not in a position to face libel proceedings initiated by a business corporation.

Fortunately, our readership is sufficiently well established as to ensure that when links to such articles are removed from another website, they are still read on our own. This is borne out by the comments we receive on the streets or at social gatherings in relation to articles carried on The Blanket exclusively and not on any other website; a point reinforced by the number of daily hits we maintain. It is hardly coincidence that the bulk of the favourable response in such circumstances comes from those to the left of centre within the nationalist community and pertains to those articles which have taken the Andersonstown News to task. Clearly, there are those within the nationalist community who feel neither represented by nor happy with the Andersonstown News presentation of events.

There should be little that surprises here. The paper puts itself at the service of Sinn Fein, an authoritarian party desperate to curb all alternative voices. Andersonstown News has never managed to resolve the conflict between a propaganda organ and a genuine news source in favour of the latter. As Sinn Fein’s journey over the years has taken it to the political right, its steadily increasing pro-establishment discourse chimes in unison with the business interests that determine matters at the Andersonstown News. Where once the paper operated as an expression of community sentiment it now identifies with a specific interest - that which enables the paper’s profiteers to continue feathering their own nests.

The Blanket, in exposing the repressive function, hypocrisy and double standards of the Andersonstown News along with the sycophancy and poor craftsmanship of its editors, has sufficiently stung those members of the business class that run the enterprise to the point where they have lashed out - not for the first time - in a bid to silence one of the few alternatives to the subservient guff churned out twice weekly from Teach Basil. Particularly galling to the paper's managerial class seems to have been the rubbishing of the Squinter/Scap double act which recently featured as a 'world exclusive' in its pages.

The Andersonstown News has for some time been resentful that a number of republican writers have frustrated its efforts to monopolise public commentary in West Belfast. Its inability to force other voices off the discursive field has left it exposed to ridicule. As a corporate concern its spokespeople have been furious that they alone do not have the final word. Faced with a number of articulate critics unwilling to gorge on the diet of nonsense the paper spews out, the Andersonstown News has sought to smother those voices. The ridiculous episode of Squinter vs. The Portadown News will not easily be forgotten, given that the result of Squinter's vendetta has made its victim, Newton Emerson, into a regular media figure. The Andersonstown News campaign of marginalization has backfired before, and it will no doubt backfire again.

The contrast between The Blanket and the Andersonstown News could hardly be more pronounced. The first is a voluntary venture and is sustained by people who live in working class estates, some of whom have served time under the worst prison regimes to have been implemented in this country. Its writers and workers receive no stipend; there is no funding from any quarter. None of them are to be found in the board rooms of the West Belfast business class. Nor are they to be seen associating with the venal William Martin Murphy types of this city. Their commitment to promoting and sustaining an open intellectual environment is the driving force behind the project. It facilitates all shades of opinion including Sinn Fein, one of whose members has submitted a critique of The Blanket to be carried today. The Blanket is in hock to no political or financial concern. On the other hand, the Andersonstown News is a prosperous business concern with very definite political interests. Despite its own plastic self-image it is not a community newspaper. Its prominent money men lead comfortable lives. Unlike those they seek to censor, they have never placed themselves at the coalface of the republican struggle but have financially benefited from it. Now that the struggle is over and the middle classes have done quite well, with only empty suits mouthing rhetoric remaining, the business class at Andersonstown News feels it safe and respectable to hitch its wagon to a hollowed out republicanism divested of any radical content.

We are not responsible for the editorial incompetence at the Andersonstown News. Seeking to censor those who draw attention to the impaired efficiency of the editor and the shoddy nature of the product will prove a futile and ultimately humiliating experience for the censors. There simply are no circumstances under which The Blanket will be closed down by the Andersonstown News. The money motive of Long Kesh screws failed to close down the spirit and idealism of the H-Block blanket - why should a similar motive succeed today?

Nothing that is written about the Andersonstown News will be removed from The Blanket site regardless of what threats the Andersonstown News makes. Significantly, its top people have not come here threatening us with libel action but instead have sought, in the manner of the bully, to target others considered less able to confront them head on. The Andersonstown News will pursue the labour of Sisyphus if it seeks to close us down. We refused to conform to the demands of the screws on the inside - why would we consider doing so for the new screws on the outside? The Andersonstown News can appeal to its friends with wooly faces to clamp down on us, it can go to the courts, it can, as one of their editors has in the past, mount intimidatory pickets on our homes. What it cannot do is succeed - any more than its predecessors, those Long Kesh screws - in silencing the voice of The Blanket. Quite bluntly, we shall go to jail for as long as it takes before conforming to any demand made by the British courts on behalf of the Andersonstown News to erase what we have to say about this dubious business concern.

Censorship is a crime against the public intellect. The Andersonstown News in pursuit of its nefarious vendetta of censorship will meet defiance stronger than its will to suppress. Is it up to the battle? We are.


Read the articles the Andersonstown News doesn't want you to: Stalinville and Send in the Sandbag




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



I have spent
many years of my life
in opposition, and
I rather like the role.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Index: Current Articles

30 May 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Andersonstown News Moves to Censor The Blanket
Anthony McIntyre


Security Lapse Endangers Republican Prisoner

Martin Mulholland


Britain's Dirty War in Ireland

Irish Republican Information Bureau (IRIB)


Story with rusty British blade has Irish adherents
Adam O'Toole


Wishful Thinking

Liam Clarke


Shade of 1984
Kathryn Johnston


Stop Attacks on Bus Drivers

Sean Smyth


Spooks are not so easy to spring from their closets

Eamon McCann


23 May 2003


Lynch Pins
Eamon McCann


Send in the Sandbag
Anthony McIntyre


Trial By Media

British Irish Rights Watch


We Love the Andytout News Information Minister
Comical Livvy


The Letters page has been updated.




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