Peace and propaganda…

THE Kevin Myers saga continues, with some undisguised criticism of his own newspaper’s uncritical attitude towards the peace process. He also raises questions about the media’s role in not rocking the Agreement boat.

Myers writes:

No political project in my lifetime has received such continuous and unquestioning endorsement from the media as has the peace process. The former editor of this newspaper, Conor Brady, actually declared that the editorial support which he had given the peace process was the aspect of his stewardship of which he felt most proud.

Perhaps such largely uncritical approval in all the media affected the news coverage. Perhaps it was the natural desire of journalists to play a responsible role in the resolution of decades of tragic conflict; or perhaps it was a fear of being seen to be a warmonger. Whatever it was, over the past decade the peace process has been the focus of a steady deterioration of journalistic standards.

Indeed, the process spawned a entirely new breed of congenial, predictive journalism. This imaginative genre consisted of repeatedly making startling forecasts of imminent historic breakthroughs and major disarmament, with permanent peace to follow. Not one of these forecasts was correct. Not one. Yet the credibility and reputations of the journalists who were duped into trumpeting these same falsehoods, far from diminishing, were enhanced. Not merely could terrorists now inhabit a world without negative consequences for their errors – so too could hopelessly mistaken journalists.

Our trade should be about telling the truth unflinchingly, not writing stories to support political programmes. For the past decade, journalists have been protecting the peace process like guard dogs. That peace process is now over, slain by entirely predictable (and in this column, predicted) Provisional duplicity. Peace, Provisionally, has arrived. It is now time for the hounds of the press to go solely after the truth, regardless of consequence to the Provisionals.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    I think Myers will well and truly be flabbergasted by the letter in yesterday’s Times from the Editor Emeritus of the newspaper, Conor Brady. A case of the Colonel retiring to lick his wounds, methinks

    Madam, – I was surprised to read of Kevin Myers’s poor opinion of his newspaper’s record in relation to the Northern Ireland peace process (An Irishman’s Diary, January 14th)

    He disparages my affirmation, on stepping down as editor in 2002, that The Irish Times’s support for the process was the aspect of my stewardship of which I “felt most proud.” He describes a “continuous and unquestioning endorsement” of the peace process, implying a consequent warping of news coverage and a “deterioration of journalistic standards.”

    These allegations are false and they traduce not just the editorial policy of The Irish Times but the many journalists who have covered the peace process over the years in its columns.

    Your diarist has some cheek to allege a “deterioration in journalistic standards,” linking this, by implication to the work of colleagues such as Dick Walsh, Frank Millar, Ella Shanahan, Conor O’Clery, Fergus Pyle, Dick Grogan, Mark Brennock, Gerry Moriarty, Mark Hennessy, Dan Keenan and many, many others.

    Not to mention the successive News Editors who acted as their immediate editorial supervisors – Eugene McEldowney, John Armstrong, Niall Kiely and Willy Clingan.

    Cui Bono, one asks?

    Had he set out these criticisms while I was his editor, I might be inclined to accord him marks for courage, if not for intellectual rigour. Indeed, if one day I find myself reading similar sentiments penned by him in regard to the Iraq war policy of his editor at The Sunday Telegraph, I would be similarly inclined.

    The peace process has been abused, misused, exploited and violated. But I have yet to read An Irishman’s Diary that propounds a preferable alternative to a negotiated and permanent peace.

    Incidentally, your diarist’s moral certainty and purported clarity of vision are hardly borne out by his own track record.

    Praising the “exceedingly brave and difficult” achievements of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness, he told us in his Diary of April 15th, 1998, that their “place in history is assured.”

    “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he went on, adding: “Wrong: totally and utterly wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s an unsettling, disorienting thing finally to realise that the prediction about which I have written thousands of words turns out to have been complete rubbish.” And on May 21st, 1998: “For the first time in 80 years, the people of Ireland tomorrow vote together on their future. That we have got so far is indeed a miracle, and confounds a great deal of what I repeatedly predicted. I wrote nice things about Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, and I will not unwrite that which I have written…”

    “I truly believe that Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams want a settlement and an end to violence. I said they didn’t before, and I am now convinced that I was wrong….”

    Presumably, by now, your diarist believes he was wrong about being wrong. If so, he is probably right. We shall have to see how matters stand the next time he changes his mind.

    To suggest that The Irish Times in my editorship was other than consistent in demanding full compliance from the IRA/Sinn Féin is to present a serious untruth. Almost 200 editorials bear that out – they can be checked in the archive. Indeed, the newspaper became caustically dubbed in republican circles – the “Decommissioning Times.”

    Making peace is and has always been a complex, delicate and difficult process. Reporting it demands a great deal more than polemic. – Yours etc.

    CONOR BRADY, Editor Emeritus The Irish Times

  • aquifer

    The systematic use of violence in politics is fascism.

    Sinn Fein are very systematic, and cannot give up violence.

    Many of us may wish for a United Ireland, but should never accept fascism, nor fancy it to be an interim condition.

  • Fraggle

    aquifer, in the event of a united ireland, a lot of present sinn fein voters would never consider voting for them again. what would the point be? what would sinn fein be for?

  • James

    Oh Christ guys, give it up. You’ve got too, too much time on your hands.

    It’s Kevin Myers, after all.