Andytown News checks wind, blows in opposite direction…

LAST week the Andytown News ran a leader strongly urging nationalists not to take part in a demonstration against the army’s homecoming parade. In case you’ve forgotten, the head was ‘It didn’t work for Paisley, and it isn’t going to work for us today’. But yesterday’s front page headline read: See you on Sunday. Last week, the ATN was all about defusing tension, today it’s about ratcheting things up. Over its six pages of coverage yesterday – seven articles, one opinion piece and all four letters in Mala Poist – not one single voice backed last week’s Andytown News editorial. Surely it wasn’t leaned on – again?The justification for the change in heart was helpfully provided by some local squaddies posing with guns and a Northern Ireland flag with the loyalist slogan ‘No Surrender’ on it. Not smart, not unusual, but very convenient. There are many more things provocative to republicanism than photos on a website, no matter how offensive, stupid or sectarian they may be.

As for balance, not a single non-republican (nor even SDLP) voice heard. The exception was shit-stirring loyalist Willie Frazer’s, who’s hardly representative of normality, and was raising the temperature on the loyalist side.

Completely absent was any voice of moderation. Willie was the only person to deviate from the new editorial line the newspaper now shares with Sinn Fein.

It is hard to believe one soldier’s Bebo site caused the change in heart, so has the paper bowed to popular pressure or caved in to the Sinn Fein line again? The former is perhaps understandable – a local paper wouldn’t survive by alienating readers – but past form doesn’t preclude the latter.

Remember the great Squinter climbdown? This latest U-turn reminds me of it. A lot. There seems little point in the paper expressing views if they are going to be thrown away within days. The point of a newspaper’s leader column is to lead opinion, not slavishly follow it. The ATN has now, twice this year, buckled and ran away from defending its own stance.

The weather has been bad over the last week, but you’ll never see the wind change direction quite so quickly as it does in the ATN.

  • Gregory Carlin

    Group-thinking is best when it knows itself what it is doing. SF itself can do u-turns as the need arises, that naval visit school thing.

    ‘The ATN has now, twice this year, buckled and ran away from defending its own stance.’

    They’re in West Belfast.

    Gregory

  • the future’s bright the future’s orange

    Responsible journalism at it’s best… Little more that a sectarian rag I’m afraid.

  • DC

    Who advertises in this paper as I’ll not be going anywhere near them, what a load of crap.

    There are loads of local papers in unionist areas, if you like, and not one of them comes close to the utter politicisation of the Andersonstown News.

  • derrydave

    Regardless of your position on the protest on Sunday you have to say that the editor and management of the Andytown News have made a mockery of their profession. How can the editorial line of any paper make such a dramatic u-turn in such a short space of time ?? Surely if the editor in question has any scrap of prefessional integrity he should step down ?! Amazing to think that any professional could allow their career to become so damaged in public.

  • Hogan

    Robin must have the blue-est balls in the whole of journalism! The amount of times he’s been kicked in them by his political masters.

  • cynic

    Plus ca change.

    I suppose they have to do what they are told. Perhaps SF are worried that there will be a low turn out so need to whip it up even more?

    On the other hand it could just be a ‘righteous outpouring of nationalist anger’ as prods daring to march in their city.

    But the bottom line is now clear. If there is violence on Sunday this situation was all whipped up and created by Sinn Fein. It’s either yet another appalling misjudgement or a deliberate attempt to get others to collapse the institutions.

  • Ranger1640

    The Andersonstown News journalists and their readership have been fated by Sinn Fein in the past as a sophisticated group of journalists and readers, that description hardly fits this U-Turn. It shows the paper and the readership up for what they are a bunch of sectarian bigots.

    I would just like to say to the readership of the Andersonstown News you only get the public representatives you vote for.

    If you’re kept in your perceived ghetto then look at your elected representatives and the leadership they give or not as the case may be.

    Let’s remember Sinn Fein thrive of the misery and discomfort of their electorate. If your told you’re a victim or useless long enough eventually you will start to believe it!

  • Mike

    Gutter sectarian press at its worst.

    Wonder will they carry a photo of Royal Irish soldiers celebrating St Patrick’s day with NI flags and Irish Tricolours? Thought not…

  • same old story

    What do you think Nationalists think of photographs like that? It’s not the first time we have seen the RIR show their true colours – those being orange.
    It is interesting no one here thinks these pictures are out of the ordinary.
    Can you understand that when the British army fly the same flags and slogans as loyalist paramilitaries why this is a problem?

  • Soubriquet

    This is a huge disappointment to me, it would be too strong to say that I was ‘proud’ of the ATN last week but I admired their ability and seeming willingness to step outside the situation and call on the community to turn the other cheek on this one. It’s really not worth what we stand to lose. This reverting to type leaves me feeling very let down.

    I’m proud to be a part of what would be considered my community but Jesus they make it tough sometimes! We’re better than this.

    This demo is about as useful as a c*ck flavoured lollipop (please excuse the profanity).

  • derrydave

    There have been plenty of other threads on the issue of the parade and the reasons for being pro or anti. This thread however is rightfully focused on the bizarre and rather embarrassing change in editorial position by the Andytown News. How can the editorial team hold their heads up in public after this ??? Their professional integrity has been blown apart. Pathetic is the only word I can think of to describe them.

  • steve

    the moral indignation around here is thick, brown and smelly

    A newspaper is not a moral instruement, it is a consumer good and if it doesn’t meet the needs of its consumers then it fails

    Think of the whole New Coke fiasco

    There are loads of local papers in unionist areas, if you like, and not one of them comes close to the utter politicisation of the Andersonstown News.

    Posted by DC on Oct 31, 2008 @ 08:59 AM

    I take that you have never read the Newsletter then?

  • DC

    Steve, I don’t buy the Newsletter for it is tosh, and secondly it’s not local, it’s regional.

    Local papers that I am aware of aren’t usually so fixated with over politicising issues as at a community level it can be extremely polarising; hence the concern.

    The event is being held in the centre of Belfast, not West Belfast! So could you imagine a leader in the Carrick Times saying See You Sunday, or Newtownabbey Times saying Get Up There. This would interfere with the localness of its readership thus encourage the grass roots from other areas to get up and get in to Town to support.

  • bet it goes off without a hitch.

  • DC

    For example, this week’s Carrick Times (bearing in mind Carrick would be as ultra in its ethnicity as Andy Town):

    http://www.carrickfergustimes.co.uk/

    Or try Newtownabbey

    http://www.newtownabbeytoday.co.uk/sectionhome.aspx?sectionid=3396

    Ahhh, and then we have the glorious Belfast Media group:

    http://www.belfastmedia.com/

    Belfast Media whipping it all up, its readers played like little ethnicity pawns, self-serving titles for self-serving aims: more easy money built up on hate.

    SUCKERS!

  • Shore Road Resident

    I wonder if O’Millionaire will be on Talkback today? As I recall, Dunseith crawled up his hole (again) over the original editorial. I suppose they may put the decision to Danny Morrison – via his BBC wife.

  • Grassy Noel

    SRR,

    you are a creep, and an anonymous, cowardly creep at that.

  • Shore Road Resident

    …and you’re trying to get the above post deleted as “ad hominem” by upping the ad hominem ante. The point still stands though. O’Millionaire gets his arse kissed on Talkback all the time, to an extent that makes the BBC’s employment of Danny Morrison’s wife a legitimate question.

  • Grassy Noel

    SRR,

    not legitimate, not even close to being legitimate – it’s the type of response typical of a crank.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    I simply can not believe – in this post Russell Brand world – that a newspaper would be so, why, opportunist.

    Why it’s as if it’s trying to appeal to the prejudices of its readership. Can this be allowed? Who would do such a thing?

    Interesting that in this little thread of bluster and self-righteous that not much is said about the photograph on display.

    So, without analysing it too much or being presumptuous, what do we see? Four soldiers and presumably a fifth taking the picture, striking loyalist mural-style poses in front of a banner sporting a slogan much used and much loved by loyalists in general and the UVF in particular. No why would that offend anyone?

    No, you’re right. Nothing to see here. Move along….

    “I’m proud to be a part of what would be considered my community but Jesus they make it tough sometimes! We’re better than this.” Hang around, I’m sure they’ll drag themselves up to your own high standards with enough time and education, eh?

  • dantheman

    http://www.carrickfergustimes.co.uk/letters-to-the-editor/It39s-good-to-text.4638714.jp

    Was this really written by a staff reporter??? Good lord…

  • DC

    Billie-Joe the reason why your argument will not stick is because no one has engaged in reconciliation, without that I see no more offence in those flags than the flags and emblems of militant republicanism.

    It’s whether it is responsible or not to pick up on that one picture from a media outlet that appears to be clearly dividing down one line, whenever actually other newspapers have not done so.

    For whom are they doing it?

  • This just in

    The Andersonstown News have averted potential melt down today as soldiers in Afghanistan provided a photograph of themselves holding guns in a milarty style pose in front of the flag of Northern Ireland with a No Surrender slogan on it.

    This solitary photograph from a group of five men is enough to confirm to the news paper that the entire British Army is corrupt and, sweeping the IRA’s 30-year playground-squabble neatly to one side, they are calling for people to protest against the use of militray force.
    ends.

  • Ann

    The ATN is a joke, no one reads it anymore..it has no purpose or use, not even to wrap chips in.

  • eranu

    is that picture supposed to portray soldiers or something in a bad light? i honestly dont get it if it is. soldiers from northern ireland pictured with the northern ireland flag while out in Afghanistan. is that all it takes in the nationalist mind to go off on one? honestly, how do you expect to be taken seriously?

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “So, without analysing it too much or being presumptuous, what do we see? Four soldiers and presumably a fifth taking the picture, striking loyalist mural-style poses in front of a banner sporting a slogan much used and much loved by loyalists in general and the UVF in particular. No why would that offend anyone?”

    The photo is shocking! Loyalist terrorist murals are evoked with the image. But such a display is not a new revealation for we have grown accustomed to mock 12th of July Orange parades by troops in Iraq/Afghanistan. ‘Loyalists’ in the British army, so should it not be expected? Why be so shocked?

    While right to hilight it, but folk just take it on board and ignore it, rather than taking issue and magnifying it. It will just heighten sectarian tension which NI society does not need!

  • oneill

    I think Marty will also need to update his blog sharpish with the new party-line…not to worry he’s got his winner for this week’s “World’s Worst Journalism” Award.

  • Don’t really c whot the problem is. The drunken yobs in Rangers & Celtic tops who still like to have the odd wee skirmish cause their daddies did (A) dont read papers &(B) wont be up out of bed & ready for a riot at 10/11am on sunday. Its all a bit like the Brand/Ross thing – all totally hyped up by media and websites like this!

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Just a quick question which came to mind for the religious fundamentalist folk who can answer…

    The holding of this parade on a Sunday, is it not against biblical teaching of keeping the Sabbath holy having it soley as a day of rest etc…

    Religious fundamentalist protesters have often picketed sports events that have been held on a Sunday!
    So is the military parade on Sunday contravening the bible, scripture and what your god says?

  • Keith

    are you saying all those out supporting the troops will be religious fundamentals?

  • Soubriquet

    FAO Billy Jo Remarkable

    How else could I react? Anyone with a pc and google could come up with pics of the british army behaving stupidly, am I supposed to be shocked? Up in arms? Is this something I’ve not seen before? Of course not.

    My point stands. Just because people want to behave in this manner doesn’t mean we have to. All that is going to happen on Sunday is that the Republican/Nationalist,call it what you will, community is going to be represented by people who are NEVER going to move on from their ingrained positions. Led unfortunately by a party who should know better. If people want me to consider voting for them they should be prepared for me to criticise them too. Too little of this self examination goes on here in my opinion.

    My argument with the ATN is that they came so close to taking the high ground only to use this excuse to give it up. Presumably under pressure.

    And by the way this has nothing to do with educational standards despite your personal swipe. I just think that we have more to offer than a crowd of rent-a-chucks grinding axes.

  • Hold on, what time is the parade going to take place at?

  • DC

    “Too little of this self examination goes on here in my opinion.”

    Too much use of ‘fate’ as an excuse for extremely bad political choices.

  • Soubriquet

    Too much use of ‘fate’ as an excuse for extremely bad political choices.

    I don’t get it, I might be running a bit slow, had a long lunch.

  • Driftwood

    Compare the ATN to the attitude of the GOC, Major General Brown. A decent man with decent values, epitomising the values of the army as ‘piggy in the middle’ keeping the 2 factions apart during the troubles. The ATN editor has the values of Russell Brand, who at least had the decency to resign.

  • USA

    “wont be up out of bed & ready for a riot at 10/11am on sunday.”

    LOL.

    As I said before, it was a stupid decision to choose a ‘parade’ as the means of welcoming these troops home. The ATN did adopt a concilliatory position last week, but SF calls for a ‘re-think’ of the whole idea fell on deaf ears, hence a hardening of positions. The pics in the ATN, the 100 reasons to protest etc just highlight why it was a very questionalbe decision in the first place.
    Thanks London / MOD / DUP for supporting the suggestion of a parade, obviously diplomacy is not your strong suit. Now we run the risk of violence on Sunday with the obvious consequences. Lets hope the whole sorry affair passes off peacefully.
    If a parade was necessary for Unionists then it should have been in somewhere like Ballymena, the Regiments home town. After all these military bases are in places like Ballymena for a reason.

  • DC

    Well if we take this definition of fate:

    something that unavoidably befalls a person

    and imagine that if trouble potentially happens on the day, those that might be culpable will blame fate as in the sectarian-ness of the Army against that of the ‘honourable’ protests.

    Leaving aside all notions of stoking up a swelling of crowds and hate by the likes of such media as Andersonstown News and many others political actors who really should by now know better.

  • Gregory Carlin

    “Let’s remember Sinn Fein thrive of the misery and discomfort of their electorate. If your told you’re a victim or useless long enough eventually you will start to believe it!”

    SF distrust self-help unless they have a seat at the very front facing the listeners,

    if you put it to them, that they shouldn’t control everything, you are regarded as a mental case.

    I’ve as much chance of a constituency meeting with SF as I have of swimming the Atlantic with my thumb up my ass.

    When they cut you, you know it.

    Gregory

  • Shore Road Resident

    So the ATN opposed the counter-demo while SF supported it, but now it supports a mass turn-out by the angry brigade while SF has clearly done a deal with the army to tone the counter-demo down.
    I suppose this disputes the belief that the paper and the party are ‘inextricably linked’ but it is a very poor piece of ‘sequencing’.

  • Terry

    SRR,

    Morrison’s wife doesn’t work on Talkback and hasn’t done for years, you stupid ignorant fucking prick.

  • marty

    Morrison’s wife doesn’t work on Talkback and hasn’t done for years, you stupid ignorant fucking prick.

    Hi Danny.

  • Gregory Carlin

    “The ATN editor has the values of Russell Brand, who at least had the decency to resign.”

    The BBC?

    Well, look at it this way, if they are prepared to put their prize carrier into dry dock,

    scuttle a battleship, an eight inch cruiser was well on the way to the scrap yard.

    Gregory

  • William

    TELL ME SHORE ROAD RESIDENT: Which one of the Talkback crew is Danny ‘Never did want to kill Sandy’ Morrison’s wife…is she the Canadian?

  • Shore Road Resident

    I dunno (then again, I am a stupid ignorant fucking prick).