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.)