Taking a stand against censorship

Lisburn SDLP councillor Matthew McDermott is reported by the Irish News to have returned his young achiever (“40 under 40”) Belfast Media award in protest at their handling of the Squinter column and subsequent front page apology to Gerry Adams MP MLA. “A columnist of any repute should be allowed to do what they are paid to do and criticism of politicians or political parties, including my own, is part of the rough and tumble of this business,” he said, unable to accept the award, believing that “newspapers should be free to comment “without fear of censure or interference”.”

A COUNCILLOR given an award by a newspaper for being a young achiever has handed it back in protest at its handling of a complaint from Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Matthew McDermott (23), who was recognised by Belfast Media Group in its ‘Top 40 Under 40’ awards, said he felt “unable” to accept the honour.

The Lisburn SDLP councillor returned the award yesterday.

Mr McDermott said his decision was related to a recent decision by the Andersonstown News to apologise for an opinion article carried last month.

The column criticised Mr Adams, the West Belfast MP, saying he should take his share of responsibility for rising crime in his constituency, following the murder of Frank McGreevy at his lower Falls home.

However, the next edition carried a front-page apology to Mr Adams.

Mr McDermott said newspapers should be free to comment “without fear of censure or interference”.

“A columnist of any repute should be allowed to do what they are paid to do and criticism of politicians or political parties, including my own, is part of the rough and tumble of this business,” he said.

Will any of the other award recipients follow suit?