The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Daily Ireland: It's Not Over til It's Over

The possibility for a radical daily still exists, if the publishers of Daily Ireland have the mettle to grasp it.

Mick Hall • 2 May 2005

I see of late the crows are beginning to circle the Daily Ireland newspaper, somewhat prematurely in my view, although it seems some people cannot resist the thought of picking over the newspaper's carcass or rejoicing in its imminent demise. Sadly, due to the fact Daily Ireland (DI) emerged from the womb of Provisional Republicanism, it has not only been the usual suspects who have refused to give the paper a fair crack of the whip.

Many progressive people, whether they are republican, socialist, libertarian or indeed all three combined, have been unwilling to display the same tolerance to DI that they would have given to any other new paper to hit the street. Indeed from this quarter I have even heard comments such as DI is on a par with the Hitlerite Daily, Völkischer Beobachter*, which is not only a nonsensical comparison but in my view is being very short sighted.

True, to date it has not been the most inspiring of reads, but any new publication takes time to bed down. Plus, it is far from an easy thing for progressive political activists to move from publishing a party periodical, the basic purpose of which is to spread party propaganda and to be a source of information about up and coming party events, etc, then to move to a national newspaper, which aims at a readership beyond the movement's fold (the same is true of a local paper). Few have succeeded in making this transition successfully; instead, more often than not, despite the best of intentions a dreary newsletter is what evolves, which hovers between terminal crises. Whilst I would not place Daily Ireland in this category yet, indeed on many issues it has held its own, although it lacks vitality and needs a re-think and perhaps even a re-launch.

Unfortunately, those who founded Daily Ireland made the same mistake as many who have embarked on a similar venture. They take all political content out of the new paper's name, as if to do so would distant it from the party and its policies from whence they came. For example, the British Communist Party's Daily Worker became the Morning Star in the hope it would attract a wider non communist readership, and a decade later for much the same reason, the Trotskyist Workers Press became The Newsline**. Both papers had considerable funding behind them and had a fighting chance; the former had made a deal with the CPSU and other fraternal Communist Parties to take over half of their print run; and the Newsline had the backing of Murmur Gaddafi's gold dinars, and when these ran out it is rumoured for a time part of Saddam Hussein's ill gotten gains were passed its way.

Both papers also had a priceless asset, the loyalty of their work force, who being party activists worked for a pittance in comparison with the rest of the print world. Unfortunately, whilst having talented journalists and dedicated printers working on the papers, they also had the party leadership looking over their shoulders. No matter what their politics, there is nothing more conservative than the majority of political leaders, the more so the higher up the greasy pole they are.

It seems Daily Ireland may not have suffered direct editorial interference from the SF tops as such, although what appears to have happened is the paper's staff have attempted to second guess what Gerry Adams and the rest of the PRM leadership may think on this or that key issue of the day. By doing this, the paper has displayed hesitancy when reporting or editorialising. For example the SF leadership has been all over the place over the Affair McCartney, and this has been reflected in the paper's coverage of this issue: only coming down on the side of the family after Gerry Adams finally made it crystal clear he was not kidding or snowing over his support for the McCartney family. Even then the paper continued to have a couple of hiccups on this matter.

Anthony McIntyre commented the Daily Ireland should look to Dev's paper the Irish Press for inspiration. There is little doubt that in the early days this paper employed some fine journalists; how I wish Erskine Childers had survived the civil war, as one would have loved to have seen how he would have dealt with being at the helm of a national daily.

However a more recent example of a successful progressive periodical was Marxism Today, which started life as a turgid Stalinist tome and under Martin Jacques' editorship turned itself into a joy to read. Nevermind I disagreed with much of its political content, for it provided a debating platform centred on the main issues of the day, whether they be political, economic or cultural. Whilst the majority of the Left was still shouting "the workers united will never be defeated, MT was highlighting the enormous changes then taking place within society and proclaiming the fact if the left is to have a future, it must take note of these changes, and be conscious of them when we draw up a strategy to combat multi-national capitalism, which is a many hydra headed beast.

Who can deny Irish Republicanism has not reached a similar stage today, where a new roadmap for the movement's future needs to be drawn up if Republicanism is not to morph into a tepid form of Irish nationalism?

True, Marxism Today collapsed when the Communist Party of Great Britain imploded and the Stalinist Tankies walked off with the party's empty shell, the party's not inconsiderable assets having been swiftly binned by an equally unprincipled and avarice bunch of so called Euro communists, who eventually went by the name of the Democratic Left, although 'democratic theft' may have been a more appropriate name. Nevertheless for a number of years MT had become an organ of influence and I see no reason if it was emulated it could not be replicated by a radical daily paper. After all, Ireland is hardly awash with such newspapers.

The first thing which should be binned is political dogma. When Michael McDowell and those other rats who represent Capital in the political sphere cried the Daily Ireland was a Provo front, Martin O Muilleor should have said 'yes, we come from within the Provisional tradition and we will not deny it, especially to the likes of you bunch of gombeen men. But this paper will represent all the dispossessed, down trodden peoples, whether at home or abroad. We will challenge all those who over step the mark of decent humanity and democratic accountability, whoever they be, whether friend or foe'. Indeed, with the McCartney murder and subsequent campaign coinciding with the paper's launch, DI had a wonderful opportunity to show its independence. True, it tried to support the family but its readership could sense the vigour needed in such a campaign was lacking, a missed opportunity me thinks.

Intellectually Daily Ireland could and indeed should have played the controversy over Richard O'Rawe's book Blanketmen for all it was worth, as this was a debate that needed to be aired, and by doing so the paper would again have been asserting its editorial independence. Once again the peg was there, awaiting the Daily Ireland to hang its own cap on it and by so doing inviting others to do the same.

Again those conservatives like Gerry Adams who believe only ordered propaganda is of any use to their movement were proved wrong. For after Richard's book was first published, did the earth shake, was a loaded weapon placed in the hands of the republican movements enemies? Was it hell as like. Instead we all groaned at the sheer silliness of the SF leadership on this issue, which basically mirrored their tactics when Ed Moloney published his book, A Secret History of the IRA. In hindsight it seems incredible this leadership trusted volunteers to go out armed to the teeth, but still will not trust some volunteers to read certain books.

The Daily Ireland columnists, who have been chosen to give us their thoughts on a regular basis, have hardly been inspirational and bar the odd one, reflect a narrow, conservative section of progressive and republican thought. A bigger problem has been — apart, that is for the saintly Danny Morrison — the columnists have not been given the space to develop their arguments and suppositions, thus their columns often fall flat. Some may feel this is a blessing, but it results in the articles reading as if they have been cut and pasted by a heavy handed sub. There are subjects that are crying out for debate within the Irish media: illegal drugs and immigration, the right of a home for all and a woman's right to choose being at the forefront, as none of Ireland's main political parties will go near these subjects. Instead we get the same old reactionary nonsense.

As for Unionist columnists writing for the paper, the word is none of them will work for Daily Ireland. Whether this is true or not, I have no idea, however I have noticed former loyalist and republican prisoners have managed to put aside their differences enough to publish the Other View, a magazine that is published under the auspices of the ex prisoners organisations Expac and Linc.

Above all else, a radical newspaper needs to appeal to the young, for only the young are truly radical; to do this the paper needs to be optimistic and offer a better future for all. However, having said this, a truly great newspaper will express political opinions from all quarters. Hugh Cudlip's Daily Mirror and Lord Beaverbrook's Daily Express, when at their best were half decent examples of a popular press: both had columnists from across the political spectrum. By doing so a paper allows it readership some meat to disagree with via the letters page, plus columnists can vigorously challenge the arguments put forth by their fellow columnists. One of the most inspiring newspaper articles I have ever read was a Daily Mirror centre page spread on the fall of Saigon. The writer, although not himself a communist, left his readers in no doubt the good guys had won. Can one imagine this happening in a Red Top today?

One cannot be surprised at Capital's political lackeys such as Michael McDowell, working for the collapse of the Daily Ireland by fair means or foul. But for progressives, if the paper were to fail it would be a setback, thus we should get behind it. In return perhaps the paper should open its pages to SF's foremost republican critic. In doing so it would be declaring itself an independent entity, proclaiming itself to be of the left, whilst welcoming all to use the Daily Ireland if they have something of interest to say.

Finally, whilst accepting distribution is the bugbear of all non establishment publications, it does not have to be an insurmountable problem, the more so in a comparatively small nation such as Ireland and with the energy and tenacity of many of those who make up the ranks of the Republican Movement.

If the Daily Ireland gets behind us, the wretched of the earth, then we will not be found wanting. To those progressive comrades who hesitate from supporting DI, due to their previous experience when dealing with the PRM leadership, I would say this: is there any other national daily which is prepared to meet us even half way?



* Völkischer Beobachter translated into English is Popular Observer, thus it was not only the left who took all politics out of a papers name.

** Unbelievably, the British Conservative Party already had a periodical called Newsline.



Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

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

2 May 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Daily Ireland: It's Not Over til It's Over
Mick Hall

Education Cuts
Sean Smyth

Rate My Teachers Blocked
Michael Hussey

* Election Coverage *

Greens Endorse McCann
John Barry and Kelly Andrews, Greens

Young People Are Not the Problem
Tish Murray Campaign Press Release

Liam Kennedy and West Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

Coulter's Choice
Dr John Coulter

Send Mitchel to London
Brian Mór

Flashback: A Coversation with Lindsay Whitcroft
Anthony McIntyre

29 April 2005

I Believe
Eamon Sweeney

Behaving Justly
Anthony McIntyre

Stop the Cover Up -- Give Us Peace
Kathleen Coyle

Justice Needs Done
Damien Okado-Gough

More Than Politics to NI Process
David Adams

Jude the Obscure Republican
Anthony McIntyre

Shared Ultra Conservatism
Dr John Coulter

* More Election Coverage *

Europe and the General Election
John O'Farrell




The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices