The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Bad News is No News in a World Where Sinn Fein Rules


Eamon Lynch • The Sunday People, June 29 2003

If Mairtin O'Muilleoir had his way, an actor would be typing these words for me.

You see, back when he was a Sinn Fein councillor in Belfast, O'Muilleoir opposed censorship, or at least censorship of his own party. Today he's the publisher of the Andersonstown News, and still has something to say about the issue of censorship.

And at least when it comes to my work, he shows no signs of criticising censorship.

Last week I resigned as a columnist with the New York-based Irish Echo when the Echo publisher gave into O'Muilleoir's demands.

O'Muilleoir had his tricolour in a twist over a column in which I accused the Andytown News of using legal threats to censor critics and wondered if it was now the voice of banana republicanism, Sinn Fein's Pravda.

This was no idle charge.

When this newspaper [The Sunday People] and others named Freddie Scappaticci as Stakeknife, the Andytown News dismissed the revelations as the work of faceless spooks and lazy reporters.

In an exclusive interview Scappaticci cast himself as a hard-working brickie victimized by a gutter press.

(Sample question: How has it all affected you and your family? Ironic answer: My family has been tortured!)

Writing in The Blanket internet journal, Dr Anthony McIntyre ridiculed the story - and noted that Scappaticci was not winning his propaganda war.

In the days that followed, O'Muilleoir began lashing out at those who laughed at the Andytown News story.

When a different web site later provided a link to McIntyre's commentary, O'Muilleoir threatened legal action and the link was taken down.

He has not threatened proceedings against McIntyre, who would be a considerably more determined adversary.

When I wrote about this legal threat, O'Muilleoir approached Echo publisher and Dublin millionaire Sean Finlay to tell of his distress.

O'Muilleoir was then offered a right of reply, which was fair enough, even if it is a courtesy denied McIntyre by the Andytown News. But Finlay didn't stop there.

Over the vehement objections of his staff, he removed my column from the Echo website. He then inserted a note after O'Muilleoir's reply, accepting that the Andytown News has high journalistic standards.

As I see it, the suppression of my story was clear censorship which handed Sinn Fein an undeserved feather for its cap.

I already knew Sinn Fein had often complained about my columns.

But I can't understand his decision to remove my work. It was wholly accurate and I stand by it entirely.

Nevertheless, faced with the abject surrender of journalistic principle, I had no alternative but to quit.

O'Muilleoir's published response failed to address the issues of censorship and intimidation.

Instead he ranted about McIntyre's 'highly dangerous and damaging allegations'. He breezily denounced McIntyre as a 'dissident republican' and suggested that I am his 'colleague'.

Perhaps O'Muilleoir thinks any opinions not sanctioned by Sinn Fein are dissident.

Critics of the party are often smeared with allegations of being supporters of the Real IRA.

The unspoken assumption in this familiar slur is that it's OK to support those responsible for every massacre which preceeded the Omagh bombing.

McIntyre's request to the Echo that he be allowed to respond to O'Muilleoir's allegations has been ignored.

O'Muilleoir openly boasts that he will sue any newspaper publishing McIntyre's criticisms of the Andytown News, but his attitude towards the Echo indicates a willingness to pursue anyone who reports unfavourably on his tactics.With typical haplessness, O'Muilleoir has proven the point of my original column: I believe the Andytown News is guilty of working to silence not only those who question its cosy relationship with Sinn Fein or its Stakeknife coverage, but any media organisation that might give breath to free and open debate on these matters.

The O'Muilleoirs of the world get away with this conduct only when publishers run up a white flag and reporters remain mute lest they be branded dissidents.

It's a shame.

But I'm glad to say this newspaper [The Sunday People] is at least one which is not about to bend its knee to him.



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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

30 June 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Bad News is No News in a World Where Sinn Fein Rules
Eamon Lynch


A Secret History Gets Told in Galway
Anthony McIntyre


The Legacy of Pedro Albizu Campos and Irish Republicanism

Aoife Rivera Serrano


Picking Up the Pieces
Cadogan Group


When Science Outpaces Law

John Harrington


27 June 2003


Dome of Deceit
Anthony McIntyre


Leave Them Be
Tommy McKearney


Fighting the Censors
Ryan McKinney


Pedro Albizu Campos and Irish Republicanism

Aoife Rivera Serrano


Sectarian Stereotypes
Liam O Ruairc


What Price Pretense?

Eoghan O’Suilleabhain


Pobal na h-Eireann Manifesto
Sean Mac Eochaidh




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