Balrog on Daily Ireland…

At Balrog, November Rain gives his/her view on the demise of Daily Ireland.

As I told the SBP this weekend, the paper’s management believed it could do to the Irish News what SF had done to the SDLP. But product for product, it never matched it’s own lofty ambitions. In the end, as is apparent from NR’s comment, it struggled to get even hard core Republicans to buy it. It also didn’t help that it launched in the turbulent wake of the Northern Bank robbery.

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  • Mick Fealty

    An early appeal. The first two responses to this piece have been removed. Let me be clear. There was nothing illegal, or defamtory in there. In fact there was little other that anger and animus. And now it is gone.

    There is a lot that could be said, some positive, some negative. I only appeal that people think about whether they actually have something to say, other than sharing their own (no doubt sincere) feelings about the paper and its owners.

    Now can we start again from the beginning, please?

  • AdvicefromRupert

    Hidden Gem

    It is more than that politics and business are entirely different unless you intend to produce the equivalent of the Morning Star.

    Business is about economic realities, who are your customers and what do they want. For a newspaper;
    1 the target audience must be able to read and write;
    2 Target audience must have sufficient surplus income to attract advertisers;
    3 those that support your views must value what you write adequately to part with money to purchase it rather than say a packet of cheap fags.
    4 it must have content that competes with existing successful papers that your target market purchases. Say a few page 3 girls, large headlines, short sentences with short words. Daily Ireland KOed; Hain’s secret sex life, whose Jerry Seeing Tonight, that sort of thing. Lots of tittle tattle.
    5 have a group of advertisers willing to associate with the rag.
    6 there must be a market for the rag in the first place.

    OOPS more points than fingers on one hand.

    Given the departure anyone willing to help fill the void, I was thinking comic style with lots of fantasy stories about the adventures of bird watchers in the Amazon jungle, Miss saucy Ireland, put the political stuff in the horoscopes section and instead concentrate on rumours about who is bedding who. Of course lots of sport as this generates stories about the players wives and love life. Also sex generally sells better than bile or rather you needs the sex to be able to drip feed the bile.

    It was a business mistake with an unclear market.

    Get the basic fundamentals wrong and your dammed.

    Do I recall government money given to this business, if so who has first call on the assets? Can anyone take it over?

  • November Rain

    The demise of this rag was democracy at it’s finest, and that’s what we are happy about.


    Using this line of think, every time a business goes bust it has soemthing to do with democracy. The DI failed because the quality of the newspaper didn’t convince enough people to buy it. No other reason. The point I was making is that it seemed the mere suggestion that someone who put forward a newspaper with an editorial in favour of 6 county Nationalism’s senior party was too much for some who obviously believe that Republican views should not be allowed to be advocated in the public sphere. Also I had ntohing to do with the DI, so I’m hardly facing “defeat.”

    To try to analyse newspaper readerships as being significant for political parties is pointless. If it had any merit then the SDLP would have outperformed SF by 6-1 at the May 2005 election. They didn’t.


    Well Mick, it’s hard to know what to say. You have linked to a piece which labels me a non democrat for holding hostile views in regard to the Daily Ireland, and yet, when I reply to that charge (and by your awn admission, stay within the talk guidelines) my comments are removed.

    Let me just make it clear that I am not in the least happy at the way you seem to be trying to steer and manage (one might even say selectively censor) this discussion, but, as it’s your site I guess that’s your perogative.

    OK, now that I’ve said that, let’s try and approach the article from another angle.

    I think where the Shinners (as opposed to the whole repubican movement) have got it wrong is that they have figured that their success in the elections was somehow the Nationalist electorate making a conscious decision to choose them over the SDLP and thinking from that perspective that they could repeat the same in the newspaper field against the Irish News.

    What I think they have failed to understand is that their electoral success was as a result of the Nationalist electorate figuring they were they best choice to go against Unionism, not that the Nationalist electorate were particularly unhappy with the SDLP.

    Thus, when the Daily Ireland started, it seemingly challenged another Nationalist daily, when it really ought to have thought about challenging the established Unionist voice in the media, and offered an alternative to that.

    In the battle between the visions of Nationalism offered by the Irish News and the Daily Ireland, the people have made it clear that they want the Ireland envisaged by the moderates, not the extremists, and in that they are to be congratulated.

    The Daily Ireland, it’s editorial staff, it’s journalists and it’s small group of supporters are at the moment making another tactical mistake by with sectarian knee jerk reactions aganst the British government and Unionists, when they really ought to be asking why the Nationalist public rejected them.

  • fair_deal

    The piece started off good. It read as if we were going to get an reasonably honest republican perspective on why the DI didn’t work that wasn’t going to blame the Brits. However, it reverted to victimhood.

  • November Rain

    Fair Deal

    I don’t “blame the Brits.” And to be honest I don’t think Mairtin O’Muilleoir’s reasons as to why his paper failed are particularly edifying.

    The Daily Ireland isn’t a victim. It tried and it failed. Fair play to it for trying. My point is I can’t fathom the level of hatred and venom which it had directed to it by so many (including many on this site). It had a editorial line in favour of SF. Unionists don;t like SF. Fair enough, they are entitled to their opinion. But a lot of Nationalists don’t like the DUP yet you never see such hatred directed towards the Newsletter.

    Personally I just don’t see the point in so much hatred towards a newspaper that you don’t agree with. Much easier just to ignore it surely?

  • Rory

    I was thinking comic style with lots of fantasy stories about the adventures of bird watchers in the Amazon jungle, Miss saucy Ireland, put the political stuff in the horoscopes section and instead concentrate on rumours about who is bedding who.

    Well interesting advice, Rupert, but unfortunately
    The Sunday World or Brits ‘n’ Tits, as it was affectionately known in London, certainly when Eamonn Mccann and Gery Lawless were contributors, has surely already cornered the market with that format.

    Mick’s own succinct analysis above is about as simply clear as it can get and adds, I believe, more to our understanding of the failure than does November Rain and most certainly a lot more than the triumphalist jiggery that attempted to pass itself off as comment from far too many.

    Rupert though does have a point in that the paper really couldn’t decide on a format. Did it aspire to be a republican Irish News, a republican Daily Mirror, a republican Guardian or simply a daily An Phoblacht jazzed up a bit? Unfortunately while it was dithering to decide the punters decided for it.

  • Mick Fealty

    With respect Taf, you may have replied now, but not before.

  • fair_deal


    I was referring to Balrog’s piece not your post.

  • November Rain

    Fair Deal

    But Balrog’s piece is my post!

  • Dave

    I see the Sunday Tribune poll this morning has sf at only 8% in the 26 counties (barely 1.5% up on 2005 election). The parties public position now is to aim for 10 seats down from 15 last year.

    Should we see the failure of daily ireland in that context? simple lack of support.

  • Hidden Gem

    Mick – I am surprised that my original point was removed as I think it was a valid one. Given that the tile states, and I quote, “…the paper’s management believed it could do to the Irish News what SF had done to the SDLP….”, I believe it is a fair criticism to draw a comparison with the arrogance that this presupposes. I acknowledged that the Shinners have been mandated by the people (IMO misguidedly so) but suggested that it is dangerous to take the people for granted as appears to have been the case with the DI. Is this not fair comment?

    AdvicefromRupert – Though I agree with the points you make, I don’t accept that politics and business are so very different. Each, to some degree, relies on the other for success. The organisational structures in one are often seen to be mirrored in the other with Finace, PR, marketing and RND playing major roles in each. One final point, I don’t think the target market was unclear so much as too narrow. The DI was widely perceived as a mouth piece for Gerry and that did nothing to help it develop a readership with neither moderate Nationalists nor the wider republican family.

  • fair_deal


    Apologies my mistake assumed you were CG. Too weekend mornings with no lie-in and two mistakes. yesterday I was talking about Tommy Kelly instead of Tom Kelly.

    So why did it not sell enough newspapers?

    As regards your claims of censorship I am not aware of anyone calling for the paper to be banned. The other ATN titles and An phoblacht continue to be produced so a republican voice has not been silenced.

    The comparisons don’t fly either. The Irish News is broadly SDLP (opting for a nationalist consensus if one exists) and this is reflected in the editorial but it does not permeate its selection of news nor the range of viewpoints it includes. Any political point scoring in its news coverage is broad nationalist rather than party political.

    The News Letter is similar with its editorials with the note it is focused on a non-Belfast, conservative readership. However, its journalists lack the political edge of the IN. The UUP claims that its news coverage has gone DUP doesn’t stack up e.g. independent electoral commission research showed the UUP got more coverage in the NL during the elections. Its more that the historically poor coverage of the DUP in the NL changed with its electoral growth and the UUP stuck in “blame everybody but us” mode add the NL to the list of blamehounds for its woes.

  • IJP

    There are lots of angles to this.

    Politically, yes, SF has to a large degree mistaken support for it with opposition to Unionist extremism. The latter is essential to its electoral success. (Also, SF’s success comparative to the SDLP has been, this century at least, mainly down to previously SDLP voters failing to vote, rather than large swathes of people switching party.)

    Business-wise, it was obvious the only way DI would succeed would be through gaining UK Government advertising – and despite the obvious nonsense of such a position, I’ve no doubt its management was genuinely surprised it didn’t. Beyond that, it is obvious there is no room for a further paper in addition to three morning regionals and the London/Dublin papers – indeed, I’m not convinced the BelTel morning edition can survive either.

    Belfast simply doesn’t have the type of “professional public transport commuter” needed to prop up so many titles.

  • Nic

    Instead of ignoring or “failing to understand” the “venom and viciousness” of those “gloating” over it’s demise, perhaps it would be more “helpful” to consider what that tells us about how the paper was viewed, it’s image and the message it was trying to propagate.

    It seems there’s little doubt that, in the public’s mind at least, Direland was a SF organ propped up on IRA money and British Government kickbacks. This is not a good start if you’re trying to establish yourself as an objective, independent voice and not just another an phoblacht or pravda.
    I agree with TAFKABO when he speculates that the shinners have misread their new-found relativge popularity at the polls and the lesson seems to be that regardless of how often The Bearded One is feted in Washington or photographed outside Leinster House, even “respectable” nationalist families don’t want a shinner about the place.

    Wow. That’s gotta hurt, eh?

  • Hidden Gem

    “The Irish News is broadly SDLP…, …but it does not permeate its selection of news nor the range of viewpoints it includes.”

    In the past, this may have been the case but I think there has been a noticeable shift. Certainly the editorial always follows the line of a broadly moderate Nationalist which is in keeping with the SDLP. However, I think it has become heavily weighted in favour of SF styled republicanism with Feeney, Gibney and Willy Graham commentating and a seemingly biased Picture Editor. John Dallat seems to be have singled out as the acceptable SDLP voice at he expense of Durkan, Attwood, McGrady, McGuiness, Lewsley etc When favourable comment from them is submitted is all too frequently hidden in the back pages or framed by larger pro-SF articles and pictures Pan-Nationalists it may want to be but representative of a balanced Nationalist view it isn’t.

  • day sleeper

    mick, could you publish a link to that SB Post article, please? I can’t find it on the site.

    DI was gripped with a sort of De Velera-esque, totally anachronistic fantasy about Irishness and it was particularly apparent in its sports coverage. For instance, it once ran a FRONT PAGE LEAD trumpeting in shrill triumphant terms that despite the world cup, thousands of ‘gaels’ had turned out for GAA matches throughout the 32 counties one weekend. (Gosh!) It was a piece clearly born of massive insecurity and an ultra nationalistic inherent antipathy towards soccer (that garrison game) which frankly in the 21st century made its writer and the editor who decided to place it there seem nothing short of unhinged. Thinking nationalists/repubicans want no part of that sort of gombeen provincialism.
    Ditto the coverage of Northern Ireland’s victory against Spain last week. In DI, this was buried 5 PAGES FROM THE BACK! The single biggest sporting event in the city that the paper itself is produced in and they could clearly only barely bring themselves to put it in at all. Now, regardless of whether you despire the NI team or not, that is the story that sports fans of whatever persuasion in the six counties wanted to read about that morning. The Irish News led with it on their back page.
    They weren’t demonstrating massive maturity or magnanimity in doing so, just behaving like a normal newspaper should – one which is aware of what its readers want to read.
    There were examples of this sort of nonsene on a weekly basis. The overall feel of DI was a total embarrassment to most nationalists and republicans I know. They are relieved it is gone for that reason.

  • Mick Fealty


    I couldn’t find it either… it was either too short to bother with, or it may have been spiked…

  • Mr Angry

    Had they taken my advice and had a page three comprising topless “Rose of Tralee” and “Curvaceous Colleens” photos I’ve no doubt it would have gone from strength to strength….or something, allegedly.

  • day sleeper

    That says something in itself though, doesn’t it? About DI’s lack of relevance to anyone outside of a cabal of northern Shinners. The SBP would be by far the closest to it in ideological terms and even they decide that its demise is not worth marking in the paper…So much for it being an Ireland-wide enterprise.

    I’m amazed that Martin didn’t trot out the ‘securocrats were hiding copies of DI under piles of other newspapers!’ conspiracy theory which featured in its (transparently largely made up) letters page on a number of occasions. 😉

  • day sleeper

    Mr Angry, I’d have gone for ‘Comely Maidens’. 😉
    Sorry, I’ll get my coat.

  • November Rain

    Ditto the coverage of Northern Ireland’s victory against Spain last week. In DI, this was buried 5 PAGES FROM THE BACK! The single biggest sporting event in the city that the paper itself is produced in and they could clearly only barely bring themselves to put it in at all.


    Indeed. And even more disgraceful when compared to the way in which the the Newsletter promotes Gaelic football.

  • day sleeper

    Yawn, what a particularly silly piece of whataboutery. There was nothing ‘disgraceful’ about it. It was an example of a mindset which doomed DI to fail in taking a proper share of its target readership.
    On the whole, GAA appeals only to nationalists / republicans. On the whole, soccer appeals to both tribes. There’s no realpolitik reason for the News Letter to cover GAA, indeed it would probably annoy more readers than it would attract. Rightly or wrongly, that’s a fact.
    There is, however, an appetite amongst nationalists and republicans for sensible coverage of international soccer.
    My point was not that DI should cover the NI game out of the goodness of its heart but that its derisory approach in this instance was symptomatic of the tribal myopia which meant it was incapable of appealing to sufficient numbers of nationalists and republicans.

  • November Rain

    On the whole, GAA appeals only to nationalists / republicans.


    On the whole, the Northern Ireland soccer appeals only to Unionists. Most Nationalists are fairly apathetic, a small percentage support the team, others wish to see it do well, personally I find that most don’t give a damn.

    You are right to suggest that there is an appetite among Nationalists and Republicans for international soccer, but Northern Ireland are generally not their first concern and many would have been more concerned with the Czech Rep v Slovakia match on Wednesday night.

  • day sleeper

    Fair enough, it was a small point but one which I think is pertinent to this debate and was intended to illuminate a malaise in the psyche of those who produced DI, a malaise which ultimately worked to their detriment. The fact is that the IN led with that story, you don’t have to be a NI fan – indeed, you might well hate the team – to want to read properly about a match like that. And it just looked, well, bloody odd to have it buried in that way. A small example yes but the totality of the DI experience was made up of hundreds of small examples like this which jarred with most nationalist and republican readers. Unionist views on DI are largely irrelevant in that they would never have made up a single percent of its readership. The fact that the IN stuffed DI so resoundingly (how much more proof does one need than the IN being the only paper of its sort in the UK to increase its readership in the past year?) offers a fascinating and crucially important insight into the broader nationalist / republican mindset. It doesn’t like having its collective intelligence insulted and it isn’t into one dimensional sectarian propaganda.

  • mickhall

    What has not been raised here is the political implications of the closing of DI. If we can believe M O’M, when DI was set up it factored in British grants and advertising without which they felt it could not survive.

    This tells us a great deal about the SF leadership cadres attitude to the GFA, it also tells us that they misjudged the British States willingness to finance something that might have a lasting legacy. I e a successful radical republican all Ireland Daily which they believed could be built on the back of British handouts.

    Now if the British gave SF a nod and wink about these grants etc materializing, the fact that they did not once PIRA decommissioned, should make all SF members have a little think about conducting politics out of the light of day and relying on back channels.

  • god help us

    If the management at DI or indeed within SF seriously believed that they could beuild a successful radical republican all Ireland Daily on the back of British hand-outs, they have truly, truly, lost the plot.

  • kensei

    Where I think SF has misjudged thinks a bit is that their support is growing because it is drawing in a lot of it’s support from young Nationalists. It presents a confident Nationalism that asserts who it is and has no interest in apologising from it, and this appeals.

    From this angle, the “Victimhood” card plays less well. For example, while certainly the potential Feile funding cuts pissed me off, at the same time I was thinking – Fuck ’em, why the hell can’t we do this ourselves? We look at the South with a bit of pride and wonder why the hell we can’t make a go of it.

    The level of vitirol here about its demise is somewhat insane, by the by. In a sense, this is how you know SF is doing an effective job – because everyone else fromDUP to SDLP is so mentally dominated bvy them.

  • mickhall

    The level of vitirol here about its demise is somewhat insane, by the by. In a sense, this is how you know SF is doing an effective job – because everyone else fromDUP to SDLP is so mentally dominated bvy them.

    Posted by kensei


    Interesting point, as to was the paragraph it followed, could be it is time for a new generation to take the stage.

    All the best


  • IJP

    many would have been more concerned with the Czech Rep v Slovakia match on Wednesday night.

    Splitters and partitionists the lot of them!

    A united Czechoslovak team would do far better!

  • inuit_goddess

    It wasn’t the fact that DI had an editorial line supporting SF that people objected to. It was the fact that this pro-SF line permeated the entire publication, choice of news articles, columnists, even the sports pages.

    There’s a big difference between party political rags like Daily Ireland and the Newsletter which basically just exist as a mouthpiece of the SF & DUP press offices, and a newspaper like the Irish News which while it may be editorially nationalist it’s clearly much more than just a party mouthpiece.

    It baffles me why anyone buys the DI and Newsletter, let alone 40,000 odd souls out there who do.

    DI was not a proper republican paper – it was a SF mouthpiece. It never gave us a glimpse of debates or disagreements within republicanism, nor did it give a voice or platform to any republican disagreeing with the SF line.

    All it was was the Daily Gerry, and the broad nationalist and republican community reacted with the scorn they did.

    Now if only unionists can treat the Newsletter with the same contempt we may one day get a quality pro-Union daily, but I’ll not be holding my breath.

  • inuit_goddess

    ps Had to laugh at fair_deal’s comment about uup press coverage during the last election – they may have had coverage but 90% of it was negative!