Steven King returns from Canada (BTW Congratulations Steven) to the Belfast Telegraph (ah well) with reaction to the launch of what ATN obviously hope will be their new flagship title, Daily Ireland. – he notes the expensive colour adverts paid for by NIO Departments [though no PSNI ads.. yet], and wonders if it will be more successful than Eddie Shah’s little-lamented Today newspaper.His first impressions –
The layout is similar and the prejudices about America and Israel are the same but, while The Independent is occasionally a little too understanding of Sinn Fein, Belfast’s newest morning tabloid is unashamedly republican.
Readers did not need to wade through the buzzwordy editorial to gather that: the adjoining cartoon said it all.
Tony Blair is depicted showing off a portrait of Gerry Adams, replete with devilish horns, to Bertie Ahern and Michael McDowell. The caption was “…and, obviously, framed by experts…”
You pay your 50p and you takes your choice. Daily Ireland is dark, dark green, a comment the publisher, former Sinn Fein councillor Mairtin O Muelloir, will take as a compliment.
He does, though, find some points to praise –
…leaving to one side the tiresome ethos of the paper, Daily Ireland has its strong points. Like the crossword. And the weather report.
I jest. Daily Ireland is cleanly executed, very strong on sport – there is even a page on disabled sport – and has a useful business page. There is lots of use of colour too, although some of the skin tones look a little green: a production problem, not some bias in the printing press, it would seem.
Before tackling the funding controversy –
Reportedly, there have been demands for grants of up to £3m.
And, yes, you heard it right – this is a paper called Daily Ireland seeking money from the very Government it wants out of Ireland.
Already, hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been thrown at the Andersonstown News Group which counts the North Belfast News, South Belfast News and La, the Irish language paper, as well as Daily Ireland, among its titles.
Mairtin O Muelloir, himself no fool, obviously takes Her Majesty’s Government for one. And, based on past experience, he is right to do so.
If Daily Ireland were wholly funded from private sources, there could be no objection. But Tony Blair is in a different category. His machinations here have already had the effect of encouraging the growth of political parties at the ends of the spectrum.
He has a suggestion for the next political/business venture though –
VAT-free Sinn Fein washing powder?