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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Ed Moloney makes common cause with Henry McDonald – how the mighty are fallen

Henry McDonald - The Guardian's Ireland Correspondent

A travesty of investigative journalism
On Friday the 2nd of this month, the Guardian’s Ireland correspondent published an article blaming “republican paramilitaries” (i.e. dissident paramilitaries) for the murder of a well known drug dealer in Belfast. McDonald’s melodramatic reportage told us that Christy Mackin was killed close to Belfast city centre in a “paramilitary-style assassination”.

Leaving aside the fact that this report was completely inaccurate, readers will already know that McDonald’s use of the word “assassination” is inappropriate and incorrect. Public figures in political or religious life are “assassinated” (usually in planned killings) not drug dealers in what was (it is alleged) nothing more than a sordid spat over love honour and drug proceeds.

McDonald’s report can be read here:

It is difficult to talk about the murder itself now because Charles Valliday and his wife have been charged with Christy Mackin’s brutal murder. In the 1990s I made a film for the BBC about the notorious Valliday family from the Lower Falls area of West Belfast after the IRA expelled the whole extended Valliday clan from Ireland for anti social behaviour – some 70 people had to leave Divis Flats and the surrounding area. However, it should be stressed that Charles Valliday and his spouse claim they are innocent of the Mackin murder and the trial is ongoing.

My point here is to highlight the fact that, once again, Henry McDonald who is supposed to carry the torch for Irish journalism in one of the best newspapers anywhere in the world, failed to do his basic work as a journalist.

Almost immediately after the killing, the main investigating police officer issued a clear statement saying that there was no paramilitary link. The BBC reported this statement thus:
Det Chief Insp John McVea said the PSNI investigation was at an early stage:

"I think the motive lies more in close associations with Christopher Mackin and I don't think it involves any of his previous criminal activity...We are not looking at paramilitary involvement. We arrested a man and woman in Belfast this morning."

All McDonald had to do was pick up the phone and ring the police for a statement and he would have had a fair idea that his paramilitary assassination line was nonsense. Further consultation with people on the street in West Belfast would have confirmed what the cops were saying, as we all know that the police often have their own agenda. McDonald seems to have done neither.

Roy Greenslade – media commentator for the Guardian

I was about to write a blog about this sorry standard of reporting at the Guardian when one of that paper’s media commentators made his own intervention a few days after McDonald’s article.

On the 6th of March. Roy Greenslade not only pointed out that McDonald’s article fell below the standards expected of the Guardian but also complained that the effect of McDonald’s reporting was to exaggerate the “prowess” of dissident republicans in a killing they clearly had nothing to do with.
Greenslade’s article can be read here -

As far as I know, Henry McDonald remained silent over this very public attack on his journalistic integrity. Ignoring regular criticism from this writer is one thing, but when a fellow Guardian writer questions his reporting one would have expected the normally voluble McDonald to respond.
Now read on.

Stephen Glover - Scion of English journalism

Never mind the journalism – Make it personal

What happened next was that a full week after Greenslade’s demolition of McDonald’s article, a key British establishment figure and veteran journalist, Stephen Glover, leapt to Henry McDonald’s defence, whilst assuring us of his distance from McDonald by telling us that had “never met him”.

In an article in the “Media” pages of the English Independent on Monday the 12th of March, Glover makes a brief reference to McDonald’s incorrect article as having been written in “heat of the moment”. Quite how Glover came by this insight is not explained, because more or less the whole of this lengthy article is devoted to showing that Roy Greenslade’s attack on McDonald was not motivated by a concern for journalistic standards but because Greenslade is a Provo. (This line of reasoning may sound familiar to many Cic Saor readers.)

Herald JPG

Just in case any Irish readers missed Glover’s attack on Roy Greenslade for having the temerity to question McDonald, the Dublin Evening Herald helpfully reproduced most of this article the night before last - 14th of March.

So now we have two newspapers, one English, one Irish, saying absolutely nothing about Henry McDonald’s fact-challenged journalism and saying an awful lot about the person who dared to raise the issue. How strange. But it gets stranger.

For who should wade in with the most personalised and vicious attack on Roy Greenslade only Ed Moloney, who praises Stephen Glover’s article as “delicious”. What Moloney does not tell his readers is that Glover’s article is a spirited defence of Workers Party veteran Henry McDonald. Older readers of Cic Saor may recall that Ed Moloney was once a scathing critic of that large number of journalists who flew the "Sticky" flag in Ireland.

McDonald is not mentioned at all in Moloney’s blog. No, the focus is on Greenslade, whom he describes as “Greenslime”; and in line with Glover denounces Greenslade as a “Sinn Féin shill” (a shill is a decoy, sleeper or plant posing as a disinterested observer). Moloney’s blog can be read here:

The Unlikely Trio
So there we have it. A journalist who is a sworn enemy of Sinn Féin – Henry McDonald; a scribe who is a paragon of the British establishment – Stephen Glover; and then Ed Moloney on one side and Roy Greenslade on the other.

Of course what unites this unlikely trio is their visceral aversion to Sinn Féin. This is perfectly understandable where McDonald and Glover are concerned. McDonald was an Official IRA (Fianna wing) and Workers Party activist and has never made any secret of his loathing for Sinn Féin. Glover meanwhile is as English establishment as they come. He was once a journalist at The Daily Telegraph, wrote a regular column for the determinedly right wing Spectator magazine and then in 1990 became the first editor of The Independent on Sunday. In passing, it’s also worth noting that Glover gave us a taste of how he views the Irish when he offered this choice view when covering our referendum on the EU Lisbon treaty in 1990 for the equally right wing “Blackshirt” paper the Daily Mail:
"How bizarre it is, how grotesque and how ironic too, that the future of this once great imperial power called Britain should depend on the votes of a few million Irish people such as these."

Ed Moloney – a changed voice

But how did Ed Moloney, a journalist I once respected and admired as a mentor in my early days as a journalist in Belfast, end up aligning himself with the likes of McDonald and Glover? Ed joins with Glover in berating Greenslade for having secretly written for Sinn Féin’s weekly newspaper An Phoblacht during the late 1980s and that he fraternised with leading figures in Sinn Féin. But Ed is being less than honest here. During the 1980s, that kind of information was likely to lead to your being targeted for murder.

To illustrate my point, whilst never hiding my own politics from my immediate colleagues in BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme, I never openly spoke at the BBC about the fact that I regularly played handball with people who were almost certainly IRA volunteers; nor did Ed Moloney regularly publicise his socialising with people like Sinn Féin publicist Danny Morrison. Danny tells me that he was once a guest at a barbecue in Ed’s house off the Lisburn Road and had occasion to meet Ed socially at other times. That is also my memory of how things were in that latter part of the Troubles - the late 1980s, the start of the 1990s.

So many questions
Will Henry McDonald ever explain why he makes a habit of not checking his facts before rushing to print?
Will Stephen Glover ever tell us exactly how he came to rush to the defence of Henry McDonald and how he knows that Henry’s awful article was written in the “heat of the moment”?
Will Ed Moloney ever tell us when exactly he fell out of love with Sinn Féin, and what it is that makes him so bitter towards his former barbecue buddies?

Beannachtaí na féile Padraig ar mo léitheoirí is comrádaithe uilig
May I wish my readers and comrades happy St. Patrick celebrations

@Paul Larkin
Gaoth Dobhair
Mí an Mharta 2012


Paul - an excellent and comprehensive article. Maith thú!
by: Jude Collins (contact) - 24 Mar '14 - 20:00
High praise indeed Jude! Míle buíochas Many thanks - Larkin
by: Pol (contact) - 24 Mar '14 - 22:46


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Title: Ed Moloney makes common cause with Henry McDonald – how the mighty are fallen
Date posted: 16 Mar '12 - 15:06
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