Media Speculation: Irish Echo & Voice to merge?

This little tidbit from the New York Post (scroll down and continue to second page) has thrown up some interesting speculation in regards to the recent Irish Echo/Belfast Media Group deal. Sean Finlay, the former owner of the Irish Echo, who sold a stake of it to Peter Quinn & Mairtin O Muilleoir’s Belfast Media Group, was in court recently for non-payment of child support. His lawyer is Grant Lally, of Irish American Republicans. Grant Lally was recently given a tour of West Belfast, by none other than Mairtin O Muilleoir. Could it be that Lally is part of the Echo deal, and was being courted by Mairtin in May? He certainly has the funds for it. Here is where it gets interesting. Lally sits on the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) as President alongside Chairman Niall O’Dowd of the Irish Voice (and by the by, the Vice Chair of the ILIR is Ciaran Staunton, long time representative of Sinn Fein in the states). (“Grant Lally is exactly the kind of leader the Irish community deserves in this role,” said Niall O’Dowd, “I am delighted he has agreed to come on board.”) The New York Sun noted the competition between the Irish Voice and the Irish Echo; the merger between the pro-Sinn Fein Andersonstown News and the Echo raised questions of where that left the Voice and its relationship with Sinn Fein, as Niall O’Dowd is a well known champion of the party and its role in the peace process. Comments have also been made about the failure of Daily Ireland and the falling circulation of the Irish Echo, which makes the takeover appear questionable to say the least. What Daily Ireland and the Irish Echo have in common, apart from the Andersonstown News‘ printing press, is their expansion into the Irish market from a niche market. Both papers have attempted it (and not done terribly well); perhaps the third time will be the charm. If so, their combined resources in the Irish market may make them attractive to a third party also looking to expand their base? Does the Andersonstown News/Irish Echo merger make more sense if it is the prelude to an Echo/Voice merger?

Only time will tell, but it sure is fun to speculate! (Hat tip to Anon.)

  • Yokel

    Lets take thsi from a business perspective. Will it work or is it folly?

    Lets wait and see.

  • Cromwell

    Heres hoping its a complete & utter disaster, just like his last one!

  • Shore Road Resident

    The whole thing is just bizarre. Looks like Mairtin has been seduced by the delusion of becoming an international media mogul.
    If he’d stuck to investing in the weekly papers he bought in the Dublin suburbs a few years back (which I believe he’s now sold for cash to plough into this and other projects) then he might actually have built up a serious all-Ireland business. But I guess all that slogging it out in the local arena seems beneath him. The parallel with Sinn Fein’s recent performance is obvious, although it clearly isn’t obvious to Mairtin.
    An even more local focus would probably be even better. The Belfast Telegraph is dying a death and that leaves a space far larger than any gap the News Letter is likely to fill. But perhaps it’s ‘partitionist’ to consider that possibility when we’ve daily flights to New York, where everyone loves the Irish, doncha’know!

  • Elvis

    Maybe Mairtin O Muilleoir doesnt understand that ‘Republican’ in the USA is Bush et al!

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    From my (extremely limited and not recent) exposure to both papers, would a merger of the Echo and the Voice not be akin to a merger of the Irish News and the Andytown News, or the Guardian and the Mirror?

  • Whatever about the political views, from a market perspective a merger might make a lot of sense. I’m not sure there is enough of a market to sustain the two publications anymore.

    When I was a freshman in college in the N. Bronx, there was only one weekly and that was the Echo. O’Dowd started the Voice when the wave of new immigrants started turning up in the mid 80s and it was very successful with that market. Clearly the numbers of new Irish immigrants is way down so maybe a merger makes sense.

  • I wish Martin Millar nothing but disaster in everything he attempts.

  • páid

    Ziznivy,

    In referring to Máirtín Ó Muilleoir as Martin Miller, you (re-)anglicized his name and therefore his identity, in your post.

    I wouldn’t (re-)gaelicize, for example, Ian Paisley, as Eoin Ó Paislig, as it would be disrespectful.

  • cynic

    ” I’m not sure there is enough of a market to sustain the two publications anymore”

    Looking at the circulations, is there enough to sustain one? Vanity publising is a wonderful think. I wonder who they will blame when this one goes belly up?

  • Looking at the circulations, is there enough to sustain one?

    I don’t have any data to offer on the market, etc., but I would imagine that there’s still a sufficient market for one Irish paper published in New York. I suppose it’s possible the internet has eaten into the market to the point where a print publication will struggle, but I suspect that the older audience still prefers their news in print.

  • reg

    ‘I wish Martin Millar nothing but disaster in everything he attempts’

    Sham, still banned from your own place i see. 🙂

  • Cruimh

    Páid – live and learn – I thought Eoin = Owen!

    Is Máirtín pronounced differently than Martin?

  • If Martin Millar had a genuinely Irish name I would be happy to respect it. I certainly won’t respect the ridiculous practice of gaelicising English names. He will remain what he was born as.

  • páid

    Ziz,

    you “won’t respect the ridiculous practice of gaelicizing English names”

    What do you think of the practice of anglicizing Gaelic names?

    e.g. anglicizing Béal Feirste to Belfast