OFMDFM’s letter from the Castle to Sir Tony…

Stormont Castle
© pshandon7
If you’ve come from the Irish Times article on the FM and DFM’s letter to Sir Tony O’Reilly and are struggling to find the letter itself, it’s because we blogged last Friday. You can pick up the text here… and there’s some useful secondary detail here

Adds: And now the Irish Times have carried it, the BBC finally finds our four day old story fit to print

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  • Brian Walker

    This is a tricky one for the Belfast Telegraph to deal with without getting drawn into every aspect of political reporting at least from the time of the Executive “strike”, not least because of the scatter-gun nature of the letter’s attack. Where to begin? Nevertheless, the letter is now well out in the public domain thanks at first to Slugger.
    Martin Lindsay the Belfast Telegraph editor owes it to his readers – and his staff – to make a public reply.

  • Pete Baker


    There’s an interesting detail from the Irish Times article worth highlighting

    A spokesman for Sir Anthony last night said the letter had been “sent to a non-existent” address and it was not received by him “for some weeks”.

    When it did arrive, Sir Anthony “passed the letter on to the Northern Ireland management, including the editor, and it was dealt with from there. As it should be. He is not going to meet with them about this,” the spokesman continued.

  • “the letter had been “sent to a non-existent” address”

    The address exists but it seems that Tony’s colleagues have failed to inform Companies Registry of the change of company details. A member of CR staff says that the last communication to CR was in 2001.

    The CR site is currently down as is the DETI website. So much for the NICS global award winning system.

    Penalties for the late filing of company information have been dramatically increased since 1 February 2009.

  • “He is not going to meet with them about this”

    Will he still be meeting with them about the other undisclosed matter?

  • dunreavynomore

    Would it be fair to say that O’Reilly’s answer to the FM and DFM amounted to a polite ‘piss off’ and , if so, what effect will that have on morale, especially that of the deputy?

  • Flash Dave

    Fair play to O’Reilly and Marty Lindsay. Both have responded to letter in the appropriate and necessary way – O’Reilly saying that he, as proprietor, doesn’t interfere in editorial matters and Marty Lindsay saying that he stands over the quality and integrity of Tele editorial.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Ulster Unionist leader and the Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister have sought a meeting with Sir Anthony ..

    Robbo will be fascinated to hear that he’s clandestinely switched parties ..

  • brendan,belfast

    I see Mark Hennesy in the Irish Times refers to Robbo as the ‘Ulster Unionist’ leader. Gerry and Dan must be on holiday.

  • Hogan

    Again the DUP and SF demonstrate their contempt for the role of the NI Assembly.

    They simply have no respect for(or knowledge of?) the divisions of government Executive/Legislative.

    The FM and DFM play leading roles in both the Executive and their respective parties.

    Here we see the FM and DFM whining about the denegration of the Executive and ‘the Assembly’.

    The reputation of the Assembly is first and foremost a matter for the speaker’s office and at a push the Assembly Commission.

    I accept this may be nitpicking but it is an indicator of their approach to the wider issues of proper governance and procedure.

  • bill

    The Belfast Telegraph has a nerve – seeing as how many of its staff it’s made jobless. It’s impossible to get a full-time job in the Tele anymore!

  • TK

    I can hardly believe that any advisor or civil servant actually put such a letter before the two Ministers and that they both signed it! Talk about glass jaws! These guys are experienced politicans; they should have known better.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I can hardly believe that any advisor or civil servant actually put such a letter before the two Ministers and that they both signed it!

    I don’t think this is the way things happened ..

  • Pete, Nevin:

    The end of Pete’s quote: “He is not going to meet with them about this,” the spokesman continued”, is perhaps the most interesting, as the letter ties the holding of another, pre-existing meeting to discussion of the issues raised.

    It would be interesting to know what was the issue originally to be discussed, as some kind of OFMDFM business would now appear to have become a bargaining chip.

  • squashed_insect

    If I was a newspaper editor and these two cry-babies landed round to tell me how to do things, I would have some short order advice for them. This is ridiculous. I seriously doubt the Bel Tel would have the cajones to say as much, but there can be no other sane interpretation of this intervention.

    Robinson, the ‘no’ man for a generation, says the Bel Tel is too negative. McGuinness, ex-IRA ‘smash the state’ kingpin, says saying – repeat, saying – bad things about the economy just won’t do. Guys – clear off.

    Any editor worth his salt will have a good reason for doing what he/she does, and even better reason for NOT doing what the ‘leaders’ of a two-bit parliament tell him/her to do.

    The press has a responsibility? Yes, to tell the truth, not to lie. It also has a responsibility not to cowtow to the likes of these guys. The Bel Tel has a better track record at doing good works for NI than either of these two.

    Write a stiff, public one or two-fingered letter, Mr Lindsay, and flex some of whatever muscle the Bel Tel has left. Or be damned.

  • brendan,belfast

    CS – i would say it happened precisely as TK described. Either a senior EIS person, or the advisors, (or more likely the two sets of people acting in cahoots), decided that a stiff letter -sent to the wrong address! – would sort out the nasty old Belfast Telegraph.

    What’s the alternative process? That Marty and Robbo actually penned the thing themselves as sent it off without a word to anyone??

  • jojo

    As much as I think the Bel Tel has gone to the dogs, it angers me that the two top politicians think they could go over an editor’s head and try to come to some cosy deal with Sir Tony. These guys are in their position because of their sectarian politics not because of their ability to govern the country. Yes the Tele’s negative and yes it’s trying to be the Daily Mail with its populist and silly campaigns, but political interference must be condemnded

  • Comrade Stalin


    I think Robbo wrote the letter or dictated the wording to a civil servant who then arranged to have it typed up and sent off. Some time before it was sent he got Marty to sign it. We’ll never know for sure of course but the letter just sounds like Robbo off on a rant.

  • TK

    Well the Tele will have been have strenghtened by the publication of this ridiculous plea. It makes politicians look like men of straw. Talk about McBride from Number 10 resigning- both men should be firing whatever adviser that suggested that this was okay- imagine the furore if this letter had come from Brown or Cameron to mainstream British press -or Salmond to the Scotsman or Cowen to the Irish Times. I cant believe SF agreed to this on the nod.

  • Mark McGregor

    My thoughts:

    Surprised this is being laid at Robbo’s door.

    When I think DUP and Media, I think of threats litigation as the first response.

    When I think of SF and the media, I think barely veiled threats or smear.

    In this case I saw the line on a request for a meeting on ‘another issue’ being connected to reporting as pure SF.

    This story isn’t complete until we know what SF/DUP were connecting to reporting at the Tele.

  • Peter Fyfe

    I was worried how the two parties politicians held up government for so long, concerned at their failure to relook at the budget, concerned that one of their members thinks gays can be cured, concerned one party’s minister for education needs another spokesman for education, concerned that a minister can be ‘minded’ to accept a proposal before seeing it, concerned that both parties are more interested in trying to silence journalists than do their jobs.

    At least we know it was only negative publicity from the telegraph and none of it actually happened.

  • Cahal

    “The Bel Tel has a better track record at doing good works for NI than either of these two.”

    The same newspaper that talked up the housing bubble for years. Lot’s of young people will be paying off jumbo mortgages well into their 60s because of the Bel Tels love in with property developers.

    They are a disgrace.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Now the politburo are challenging the freedom of the press.