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Wishful Thinking

This letter was sent in response to Mick Griffith's*/Adam O'Toole's article, "Story with Rusty British Blade.."
(Please note, both "Mick Griffith" and "Adam O'Toole" are pseudonyms: see editorial- Ed.)

Liam Clarke • 29.05.03

Dear Editor,

I come in for some collateral damage in the course of an attack on the Blanket in the current edition of Republican News and, since I have heard that you are reproducing it, I wonder if you would be prepared to give me the space to address the criticisms?

The author, Mick Griffith, accuses me of writing a string of stories, based on anonymous or pseudonymous sources, in which "facts are not facts at all but guesswork". If that's the case then Republican News is doubly culpable because my stories are, whenever they concern British collusion with loyalist, frequently reworked, often without credit, in the paper. I don't mind that but Griffith's lofty dismissal of myself and other journalists, like Ed Moloney, whose information Republican News paper has relied on uncritically when it fitted their political agenda, is a bit rich.

Most of Griffith's own facts are not so much guesswork as wishful thinking. To take a few examples:-

* He says I have claimed the Sunday Times takes a "robust anti-nationalist line". I have searched the paper's online archives as far as they go (which to 1985) and there is no sign of the phrase. I can't remember saying it and I suspect it is an urban myth.

* the recent interview which Kathryn Johnston and I gave to the Blanket was not an anti-McGuinness diatribe. We do believe that the unprecedented decision to arrest two journalists in the middle of the night and batter down a newspaper office's door was in part influenced by the desire of the authorities to impress Sinn Fein and get it on the Policing Board. Personally I look forward to the day, surely not far off, when Sinn Fein do fully support the police but I am not willing to be used as bait to draw them in.

* When I was questioned by Special Branch about articles which exposed FRU dirty tricks against nationalists Republican News published sympathetic and outraged articles. When I was arrested with my wife and held for twenty four hours for proving Martin McGuinness's phone was tapped there was no reaction, which is bit shameful and a bit selective from a paper that is constantly sounding off about human rights.

* a favourable review of our biography of McGuinness was indeed published on the Blanket website but the author, Deaglan O Donghaile, tells me he is not a member of Republican Sinn Fein. He is a former member but then he is a former member of Sinn Fein too. There are a lot of them about. What Griffith does not mention is that Anthony McIntyre wrote a considerably less favourable review himself and has make a number of references to me on the website which range from slighting to nasty and which can still be found on the Blanket's search engine.

* our book did not claim that Martin McGuinness started the Bloody Sunday massacre. We, like him, blamed that on the Paras. We cast doubt on agent Infliction's claims that McGuinness fired a sub machine gun. The record also shows that we put Martin Ingram, a former FRU member in touch with solicitors acting for relatives of the Bloody Sunday dead. Ingram's contribution to the inquiry cast further doubt on Infliction's veracity and provided evidence which was broadly supportive to McGuinness. In our book we do, however, cast doubt on McGuinness's account of what he did on Bloody Sunday. We suggest he handed out nail bombs. We also suggested, and continue to suggest, that the IRA has discouraged its members from giving evidence.

* we are giving evidence to the Bloody Sunday Tribunal because we have been asked to so and because we are legally obliged to do so.

* to suggest that I have attempted to divert attention away from collusion with loyalist para-militaries is just plain silly. Exposing collusion has been a major preoccupation of the Sunday Times. We have the gagging writs to prove it, as a search of the Pat Finucane Centre or British Irish Rights Watch websites will show. The Sunday Times has a strong record, stronger than Republican News, on breaking stories in this area and persuading whistle blowers such as Martin Ingram and John Weir to speak. We also broke the story about the British army losing Bloody Sunday guns and were the first to report the allegation that a member of the UDA confessed to the RUC that he had murdered Pat Finucane.

Perhaps Mick Griffith would like to tell us how many gagging writs and injunctions Republican News have received from the Treasury Solicitors since 1999, how many of its journalists have been arrested or questioned under the Official Secrets Act and how often its offices have been raided?


Liam Clarke
(Northern Ireland Editor, Sunday Times)



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I have spent
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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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