Did you know…

…that while Roy Greenslade was managing news editor of the Sunday Times, a ‘staunchly anti-IRA’ paper (according to the Sindo), he was secretly penning articles for the republican newspaper An Phoblacht? Neither did I until yesterday. The revelation came in Flat Earth News, and Greenslade appears to have given his blessing to on his blog, lending credence to the claim. I did know that Greenslade was the man who coined the phrase hierarchy of death in relation to how the media reported killings here during the Troubles. Now that the slaughter is long over, Greenslade’s theory has been adapted into the ‘hierarchy of victims’, applying similar logic to changed circumstances. Sinn Fein, for example, uses it in order to try to justify the republican narrative that the IRA and British security forces operated on the same moral level. While Greenslade’s original theory is pretty hard to refute, and given his interest in the Gibraltar 3, I wonder what his thoughts would be about how it evolved into, say, part of Sinn Fein’s argument for a commemoration to Mairead Farrell in Stormont’s Long Gallery.

  • aquifer

    Innocent civilians end up at the bottom of the pile.

    Silenced by louder and more cynical voices.

    That seems to be the media’s Grand Narrative.

  • Harry Flashman

    I wonder what Greenslade would have to say about the “hierarchy of sectarian serial killers” which many republican posters seem to wish to construct on the Shankill Butchers thread?

  • JACM

    Perhaps the answer is to encourage all journalists to let us know their political leanings up front. In fairness to Greenslade it was not too difficult to guess from what he wrote and broadcast.

  • URQUHART

    Sure that’s nothing – Toyn Blair was correcting IRA statements for Gerry.

  • Paul

    ‘I wonder what Greenslade would have to say about the “hierarchy of sectarian serial killers” which many republican posters seem to wish to construct on the Shankill Butchers thread?’

    ~Harry you have lost the argument on that one, anyone with a semblance of wit will see a distinction between what the Shankill Butchers done and what others have done. Naturally as they emanated from your community you wish to see them as just as bad as the rest.

  • NP

    PAUL : “Harry you have lost the argument on that one, anyone with a semblance of wit will see a distinction between what the Shankill Butchers done and what others have done. Naturally as they emanated from your community you wish to see them as just as bad as the rest.”

    Pull me up on this one, but id always assumed Harry was actually a Taig or is this a mixed marriage issue ?

  • The oh so coy Roy didn’t flesh out the details of this case in his ‘original theory’:

    “Ironically, and sadly, I witnessed a case in Donegal just the other week which shows how pervasive this principle of balance, or equivalence of treatment, can be, and how dangerous it is if not properly policed.”

    Would that have been a bridge too far?

    I noted an example of ‘news management’ at the time of the 1996 Drumcree dispute. Dick Spring, in a rambling sort of way, illustrated how the British government more or less rubber-stamped an Irish proposal on policing here. BBC NI broadcast the briefing that morning but, by the afternoon, it put out the ‘official’ version ie that the decision had been taken by the then RUC Chief Constable, Hugh Annesley.

    My reaction was to phone the BBC to ask why it had ‘censored’ the Spring briefing. I asked to be put through to the office of the BBC Chairman, Sir Christopher Bland, so that I could have my complaint noted at what I considered to be the highest level. I was put through, a man answered and I asked if I could leave a message for the Chairman. “I am the Chairman” was the reply!! We had a twenty minute chat but he simply backed the folks in Ormeau Avenue.

    Sir Hugh carried the can for decisions taken by the two Governments and the police were scapegoated.

    Iveagh House in Dublin supplied me with a transcript of the briefing. I passed it on to CAIN and to BBC NI but they’ve both refused to carry it on their websites.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    Sir Hugh carried the can for decisions taken by the two Governments and the police were scapegoated.

    If he disagreed, then the standard practice is to resign. He didn’t, so he carries the can. The end.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I think Greenslade’s thesis should be borne in mind the next time we hear complaints – let’s be frank here, unionist complaints – about “rewriting” the history of the Troubles.

    Remember, history is not what happened, history is what is recorded.

    They say journalism is the first draft of history. Well it’s pretty clear that, with the help of a pliant media, the British state/unionist axis had exclusive rights to that first draft, and unsurprisingly, that “history” is the sheerest propaganda.

    Greenslade reminds us of the vital importance of the rewriting (perhaps revision is a better word) of the history of the last forty years – no, scratch that, of the last century.

    Nevin

    Who cares? Your anecdote is small, uninteresting, and smacks suspiciously of an effort at diversion.

  • Billy and Kensei, you seem remarkably complacent at this, er, ‘rewriting of history’ by the BBC, presumably at the behest of the British government. It’s possible that Greenslade is unfamiliar with this particular story.

  • Billy

    Nevin

    Yawn.

  • Billy=Darran?

    Yawn=Someone doesn’t like ‘inconvenient’ history 😉

    Still, it was very considerate of Spring to shed some light on British-Irish ‘collusion’ as, apparently, it isn’t subject to parliamentary scrutiny ie there’s no accountability.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “You cannot hope to bribe or twist
    Thank God , the British journalist
    But seeing what the man, unbribed, will do
    There’s really no occasion to”

  • Juan Kerr

    …in a nutshell, then, perhaps it may be said that, even though the British state has completely controlled the flow and dissemination of information in relation to events in NI over the last 40 years, nobody outside of unionist circles seems to sympathise with Britain/Unionism. What does this suggest about the way the conflict is perceived outside of NI? And about people’s intrinsic sense of natural justice and fair play?

  • Ahem

    Yeah, it’s a real puzzler that no one outside of Britain and Unionists thought that the Provos were entirely unjustified terrorist killers, Save for the American government and the protestant churches. And the Irish government and the catholic church. And all other European and democratic governments. But wait – Ghadaffi and the Soveits supported the Provos, so you lot weren’t entirely Billy No Mates. How did that work out for youse? Oh wait, that’s right, Martin phoned his handler, tricky subject, best not to talk about it, eh? Such a shame that you lot can’t even get on with one another let alone with the rest of us. probably explains why you planted all those bombs and murdered all those people – just one big long yell asking for a hug. Poor, poor Provettes.

  • Juan Kerr

    ‘Such a shame that you lot can’t even get on with one another let alone with the rest of us. probably explains why you planted all those bombs and murdered all those people – just one big long yell asking for a hug. Poor, poor Provettes’.

    Sorry, I wasn’t aware that ‘I’ or even ‘WE’ had planted any bombs, or murdered anyone.

    I was just making the point that it never seemed to me that the British or indeed the Unionists’ position in the NI conflict attracted much sympathy and I heve seen several journalists concede that Republicanism definitely won the PR war when it came to the troubles. It’s just difficult to understand how, given, as has been shown in Greenslade’s essay, the British media consistently only told one side of the story for so long.

    And given the dismissiveness which which many unionist posters on this site seem to refer to the refer to the era in which violence broke out, i.e. the 60’s, it seems to suggest that even with all the atrocities carried out in the name of armed campaigns by both sides, the inequalities of the time appear to have endured in people’s minds as the real cause of the conflict in the first place.

  • kieran o connor

    i have to agree with most of what you wrote,I remember the day when 18,paratroopers were blown up at narrow water and the same day Lord Mountbatton was killed, you can guess who got the headlines so even on the mainland they had thier priorities

  • Yet another example of why you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspapers.