From the Irish News…

In response to one very particular aspect of Chris’s blog piece last night on the McQuillan/Durkan story, we received this clarification from the Irish News this afternoon:

In case of any misunderstandings about the Sinn Fein leaflet distributed with the daily papers on Friday, January 26, it probably needs to be pointed out that the Belfast Telegraph morning edition of Thursday, January 25, carried a prominent p2 story announcing that the advertisement would be appearing in the BT the following day. This story would obviously have been written on Wednesday, January 24, so there was no secret well in advance about Sinn Fein’s perfectly valid PR initiative. Suggestions about the Irish News tipping off the SDLP about the leaflet can therefore be seen to be without foundation.

  • Pete Baker

    Indeed, in case there was any doubt at all..

    Sinn Féin announced it in advance as well

  • SuperSoupy

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

    Did they insist on a right to reply?

    And the Irish News’ response to an element of a blog gets an entry of it’s own rather than added to the comments area it relates to, why?

    Can’t they just add a comment, and that’s all it is, like everyone else has to rather than emailing the editor?

  • Mick Fealty

    Why should they have to insist? It seems reasonable enough to me.

  • Nevin

    “Suggestions about the Irish News tipping off the SDLP about the leaflet can therefore be seen to be without foundation.”

    I suppose it depends on when the advert was placed with the Irish News – as well as written by the SDLP.

  • Glen Taisie

    The more expensive SF glossy got less publicity

  • SouperSoupy

    Nevin,

    The deadline for inclusion of advertisements would also be relevant. Did the SDLP meet the normal inclusion deadline or did the Irish News stretch things so they could get the letter prepared and in the same edition as the Sinn Féin leaflet?

    Are the Irish News claiming they normally have a day it goes to print deadline for full page advertising?

  • SouperSoupy

    The Irish News deadline for the advertisement was 5pm two days before publication.

    http://www.medialive.ie/Ni/Nipress/National/inews.html

    So did the SDLP get warning before the SF insert was public knowledge and get the ad in on time?

    Did the SDLP get warning and have the advert accepted after the normal deadline?

    Did the SDLP get no early warning and have the advert accepted after the normal deadline?

    I can’t see an explanation that will let both the SDLP and Irish News claim this was a normal transaction.

    Maybe the Irish New would care to email a clarification?

    I doubt it.

  • joeCanuck

    Is it just me or does this seem like a non-story, normally reserved for slow news periods?

  • Captain Renault

    People are leaking information!!
    I’m shocked, shocked.

  • The Dubliner

    PSF announced on their website on the 25th (a day before distribution) that their newsletter would “be distributed in editions of the Irish News, Belfast Telegraph and Andersonstown News”, as Chris stated in his article “…Sinn Fein only publicly announced the party’s intention to carry the Policing supplement with the two main newspapers in the north of Ireland the day prior to their delivery (that being said, it is of course possible that someone within the Irish News informed the SDLP in good time of Sinn Fein’s intentions.)”

    So all the statement from the Irish News does is point the finger of suspicion toward the Belfast Telegraph, one of the newspapers named in the PSF statement. It does not support its own conclusion that “Suggestions about the Irish News tipping off the SDLP about the leaflet can therefore be seen to be without foundation.” It just says “Well, the Belfast Telegraph knew on the 24th, too!” By broadening the scope to two newspapers that knew on the 34th and could have tipped off the SDLP (PSF had widened it to three), we can apply Occam’s Razor and cut out the more improbable ‘snitches’ to the one scenario that is most likely due to its simplicity i.e. that the pro-SDLP Irish News gave the nod.

    There is, of course, no evidence that either of the named newspapers tipped off the SDLP, but the Irish News scored an own goal by protesting too much and giving credence to the theory that a tip off occurred by attempting to implicate the Belfast Telegraph as another suspect.

  • SuperSoupy

    Even if the Belfast Telegraph gave the tip, it would seem likely the Irish News would have needed to confirm they were carrying the insert too. It doesn’t answer the deadline question, which if extended for the SDLP to make a political point would indicate a very close relationship.

  • URQUHART

    Wht the hell is wrong with people on the site tonight? Could it not be that the SDLP initiative was something to do with the timing of the Ard Fheis, rather than PSF’s poxy leaflet???

    I swear, I remember the day when you could read a bit of insight here.

  • SouperSoupy

    URQHART,

    The Irish News ‘rebutall’ and the previous comments on this site on the ad as a SDLP ‘media coup’, seems to indicate something different.

    Once the Irish News email the site owner with confirmation the ad was submitted within their normal timeframe you may have your point substansiated.

    They have receipts, easy to check, was the ad submitted before 5pm 24th?

  • SuperSoupy

    I expect the Irish News won’t be issing any further statements on this to Slugger’s as despite their complete apology over carrying the advert they will know if they bent their own rules McQuillan will have them.

  • Tkmaxx

    What a load of bollocks – SF had a well publicised Ard Fheis – or is everyone in the media supposed to pretend to be blind. I was told three days ago that Barney Rowan was going to be a candidate – I laughed – joke on me. The second part will be joke on him!

  • Chris Donnelly

    What a load of bollocks – SF had a well publicised Ard Fheis – or is everyone in the media supposed to pretend to be blind. I was told three days ago that Barney Rowan was going to be a candidate – I laughed – joke on me. The second part will be joke on him!

    Tom (from DCL Media)

    You’re missing the point here. Perhaps you find it coincidental that the SDLP would pay for a full page advert in the Irish News on the day Sinn Fein use that paper to distribute a bulletin, but you must agree that many will find this a bit of a stretch.

    In any case, I’m intrigued by the Irish News’ correspondence with Mick seeking to distance themselves from the notion that somebody within the paper ‘wired off’ the SDLP about the Sinn Fein initiative. Intrigued because it’s largely an irrelevance, which was the reason why I paid little attention to it as a possibility in the original blog (Though I have to say that some bloggers on this site have already conducted enough research into the policy for advertisement deadlines in that paper to keep this going for a while.)

    What I am more interested in is working out how and why the SDLP got themselves into this mess. And in this, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the party rushed to put together a last minute advert in an effort to provide a rebuttal to any claims contained within the Sinn Fein bulletin.

    It would appear that, in their haste to do this, they went overboard with their claims and have landed the party in a real difficulty.

    Already the party has faced the censure of public allies like Denis Bradley, whilst the Irish News felt obliged today to issue an apology to Alan McQuillan on the back of the SDLP advert.

    And today it has also emerged that the SDLP politician who sat on the relevant selection panel, Joe Byrne, has expressed his own annoyance with the advert placed and signed by the SDLP leader.

    How can this be interpreted as anything other than a mess for the party?

    Granted, I have already outlined the reasons why I don’t think the SDLP will be worried about any adverse reaction from within the nationalist community; but it is in their search for transfers that this festering issue will prove more damaging for the party.

    But we shall see.

  • Eddie

    This has got desperately convoluted. And also annoying – because an earlier contributor thinks that the word “its” takes an apostrophe in the contect of it’s (sic) [The Irish News] response. Talk about nitpicking – that’s me.

  • If you really want to nitpick, IIRC the Irish News didn’t issue an apology, but expressed regret and distanced itself from the ad. Understandably. And, I would guess, acceptably.

    But they are not the same thing. Acting wrongly but in good faith and an admission of guilt or responsibility are two different things. Ball still in SDLP’s court.