Mairtin O'Muilleoir had his way, an actor would be
typing these words for me.
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.
at least when it comes to my work, he shows no signs
of criticising censorship.
week I resigned as a columnist with the New York-based
Irish Echo when the Echo publisher gave
into O'Muilleoir's demands.
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.
was no idle charge.
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.
an exclusive interview Scappaticci cast himself as
a hard-working brickie victimized by a gutter press.
question: How has it all affected you and your family?
Ironic answer: My family has been tortured!)
in The Blanket internet journal, Dr Anthony
McIntyre ridiculed the story - and noted that Scappaticci
was not winning his propaganda war.
the days that followed, O'Muilleoir began lashing
out at those who laughed at the Andytown News
a different web site later provided a link to McIntyre's
commentary, O'Muilleoir threatened legal action and
the link was taken down.
has not threatened proceedings against McIntyre, who
would be a considerably more determined adversary.
I wrote about this legal threat, O'Muilleoir approached
Echo publisher and Dublin millionaire Sean
Finlay to tell of his distress.
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.
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.
I see it, the suppression of my story was clear censorship
which handed Sinn Fein an undeserved feather for its
already knew Sinn Fein had often complained about
I can't understand his decision to remove my work.
It was wholly accurate and I stand by it entirely.
faced with the abject surrender of journalistic principle,
I had no alternative but to quit.
published response failed to address the issues of
censorship and intimidation.
he ranted about McIntyre's 'highly dangerous and damaging
allegations'. He breezily denounced McIntyre as a
'dissident republican' and suggested that I am his
O'Muilleoir thinks any opinions not sanctioned by
Sinn Fein are dissident.
of the party are often smeared with allegations of
being supporters of the Real IRA.
unspoken assumption in this familiar slur is that
it's OK to support those responsible for every massacre
which preceeded the Omagh bombing.
request to the Echo that he be allowed to respond
to O'Muilleoir's allegations has been ignored.
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.
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.
I'm glad to say this newspaper [The Sunday People]
is at least one which is not about to bend its knee
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