“That is a matter that the Speaker’s Office should look at.”

A few points of detail to note about that extraordinary letter from the First and deputy First Ministers. Firstly it’s dated 2 March, some two weeks after the complained about articles in the Belfast Telegraph. What discussions went on in those two weeks, and with whom? Then there’s the address it was sent to – “Independent Newspapers, 7 North Street, Belfast BT1 1NA.” Except Sir Anthony O’Reilly is Chief Executive Officer of Independent News & Media PLC. If they wanted to contact him directly surely it would have been better to use the company’s official address? – which would appear to be, Independent House, 2023 Bianconi Avenue, Citywest Business Campus, Naas Road, Dublin 24. Google Maps only list the Polish Association Of NI, and Ulster Factors Ltd at the address used by OFMDFM – although the “Independent Newspapers” North Street address does appear here.. [Google street view below the fold] Then there’s the “minor exchange on a Point of Order in the Assembly chamber”. At the time, of course, Peter Robinson himself called it “a most serious issue” “that the Speaker’s Office should look into”, and it got mentioned on Stormont Live, and on Slugger.. where I agreed with the First Minister’s original assessment..

Here’s Google’s street view of 7 North Street, Belfast BT1 1NA.

View Larger Map

Update In the comments zone Nevin points to the entry in the DETI Online Companies Registry for INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS PLC [you may need to search again for the detail]

Where the “Foreign Company” has a registered office address listed as “Brendan McCann, 7 Lower North Street, Belfast”.

Date of Incorporation is given as “24/06/1924”

It’s status is listed as “Current”

And the “Change of Name Flag” is “N”, presumably for “No Change”

But it also lists what should have been a telling detail

“Last Accounts Filed 31/12/99”

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  • Brian Walker

    A particularly inept piece of pressure which has the ring of Robinson ( and Trimble, come to think of it) at his pompous worst. I suspect McGuinness went along with it out of newfound solidarity. The Belfast Telegraph’s claim of anticipating Dodds is no doubt overblown but doesn’t merit this silly little tirade. Does anyone know what the reply was from the changing boardroom of IN&M?

  • Pete Baker

    Inept, Brian, and sent to entirely the wrong address.

    Lucky it got to the intended recipient at all..

  • Claudius Pulcher

    Do we know certainly that this letter is genuine?

  • Claudius Pulcher

    Without apparent confirmation or response from OFMDFM, I wish to strike a couple of notes of caution about this letter. Firstly, the address to which it is sent seems bizarre. I cannot imagine the leading politician in any other democracy approaching the head of its largest media organisation in such a ham-fisted and ramshackle manner. Normally, there is a line of communication which is discreet. The normal protocol to communicate the feelings and sentiments included in this letter is to dispatch a high-ranking civil servant to a meeting with his opposite number within the media empire. There’s something about this which makes me feel uneasy.

  • Comrade Stalin


    I’m minded to nip down to North Street and see what the plaque on the wall says. It’s possible that IN+M do have an office there – or a forwarding address.

    I have no problem agreeing that the misuse of terminology in the House for political purposes is a serious issue within the context of the question of how business in the assembly is properly conducted. However, the Telegraph did misrepresent this to suggest that the assembly wasted significant amounts of time on the issue.

    It is interesting, though, that Robinson now regards that point of order as “minor”. He’d have been on safer ground if he’d focussed on the bad reporting of it.

  • Pete Baker


    It’s good to be sceptical.

    But the letter is signed and I have no reason to doubt Mick’s sources.


    I’d suggest that if OFMDFM had a concern about how the NI Assembly was being portrayed then they should have involved the Office of the Speaker, et al.

    As I mentioned in the comments on Mick’s post.

    If however they were simply concerned about how their own political parties were being portrayed..

  • Yoda

    “leading politician in any other democracy ”

    any other democracy not this is!

  • Scaramoosh

    “leading politician in any other democracy”

    A leading politician in any other democracy, would have quietly told them what to print and what not to print. And if that failed, they would have relied upon their flexible friend – the “D” notice.

  • Pete, the company’s registered address is 7 Lower North Street, Belfast

  • Pete Baker


    That’s for “Independent Newspapers PLC”.

    Last Accounts Filed – 31/12/1999.

    That detail should have been a clue.

  • Pete, I noted the date but also the status: current.

    CR has to be informed of any change of company details within two weeks of said change. Perhaps there’s another story lurking there …

  • Comrade Stalin

    Scaramoosh, cut the crap with the D notice bullshit, will you. Try reading the current headlines on the BBC homepage for a start.

  • Pete Baker


    Let’s try to keep focussed.

    The problem would appear to be that they didn’t look elsewhere for the details of Independent News & Media PLC.

    Or any number of other permutations.

    Anyway, I’ve updated the original post to note the DETI listing of a registered office for Independent Newspapers PLC.

    And a reminder that, until May, Sir Anthony O’Reilly is CEO of Independent News & Media PLC.

  • “The problem would appear to be that they didn’t look elsewhere”

    Pete, surely one problem is that they didn’t know there had been a company change of name in 1999. Also, INM hasn’t apparently updated the details of its previous title. I wonder which is the more serious problem.

  • ArchiePurple

    Brendan McCann was the Irish Times Journalist in the 1990s and this office in North Street was merely his ‘base’ in the city at that time….complete with phone line, fax, trusty old electric Imperial typewriter or similar, a couple of chairs, a full ashtray and a shared toilet.

    For the ‘Brothers Grimm’ to access 4Ni.co.uk to obtain the address shows the ability of the pair of them, since that site has a multiple of addresses and company details that are years out of date. Its like accessing the archives of Slugger!! One would surely send a letter to the Chief at his lavish HQ in Dublin….I know I would have done so.

  • DC

    Did Mick get this letter from someone in Royal Mail’s dead address return to sender section, where letters are opened to find a return address, if not marked on the actual envelope?

  • Peter Fyfe

    The irony in the situation is great. Our first and deputy first minister complaining about negative jouralism directed at them and the executive. They then proceed to get the address wrong. Talk about priceless. They are a joke, it is about time people grew up and realsied what the DUP and Sinn Fein are. This people are not fit to govern and that’s nothing to do with the past. They just keep showing us how useless they are. What goes through Peter Robinson’s head when he thinks he can complain to a paper for not saying what he wants it to? The man is a joke.

  • ArchiePurple

    Dead right Peter Fyfe ….. you have it in one…..the DUPes and the terrorists on sabbatical are a joke….in fact they’re past a joke….and Robinson is an arrogant joke

  • “a most serious issue” not apparently covered in that North/South debate – or in the MSM and possibly on Slugger – has just been highlighted by Jim Allister: “North/South expenditure illegal”:

    “grants shall be of such amounts and be made on such terms and conditions as that Department may, with the approval of the Department of Finance and Personnel, determine.”

    This year payments are proceeding to the North/South Bodies without formal DFP approval.