Frank Millar to leave the Irish Times…

Slugger hears with some regret that Frank Millar is to move on from his role as London editor of the Irish Times after 19 years in the post… Although he’ll be more familiar to Slugger readers for his incisive and insightful analysis of the complex undertows of Northern Irish politics. A straightforward and unfussy journalist, he nevertheless seemed to be able to draw out some of the most important material of the time. Back in December 2002, in the smaller confines of old Slugger, we serialised his interview with Peter Robinson and called it ‘Robinson’s Plan‘ since at the time it was the first indication that the DUP had specific terms with which they would engage with the two governments. The effect of his later work with Mitchell Reiss Ian Paisley, Dermot Ahern, Gerry Adams, and Peter Hain were held to be a game changing moment by some senior political insiders. His book on Trimble is an almost real time blow by blow account that gives something of the combative but respectful character of his political journalism. It can be rightly said that he took no prisoners, but that he understood the boundary between a journalist’s right to honest enquiry and the legitimacy of democratic politics (see Northern Ireland: A Triumph of Politics for one of the soundest rationales for the legitimacy of the Peace Process?). As a journalist, he was one of the ‘real’ guys. He will be much missed by those of us who value scepticism over cynicism every time… Good luck with the rest of your career Frank! Let’s hope this does not presage a downgrading in the priorities of Northern Ireland in newsaper that has served us well over the years…

  • Let’s hope this does not presage a downgrading in the priorities of Northern Ireland in newsaper that has served us well over the years …

    Why would it, Mick? Millar is the London editor of the IT, not the NI editor (who is Gerry Moriarty, and who is certainly not leaving).

    Any news on where Millar is going?

  • Mick Fealty

    Not yet. I’ll let you know.

    The last pedant we had on Slugger was promoted to blogger. That was Pete.

    But you have an elegant way of hitting the trees and missing the wood. Gerry and Dan will still be there. Of course. But they had three people covering the patch, and whilst Gerry and Dan did the bulk of Northern Irish reporting, Frank punched above well his weight in terms getting under the skin of the problem.

  • The last pedant we had on Slugger was promoted to blogger. That was Pete.

    But it didn’t stop him, did it?

    But you have an elegant way of hitting the trees and missing the wood.

    Logically impossible.

    😉

  • An fhirinne gharbh

    But you have an elegant way of hitting the trees and missing the wood.

    Logically impossible.

    Not at all…you could make contact with mere foliage. Sorry, this pedant thing is contagious.

  • Brian Walker

    As a former member of the club, Frank offered unique insight into the mindset and tactics of politicians on both sides and both States. It was no small thing for him to make the switch from player to observer but he achieved it triumphantly. Although operating for many years from London, he probably scores highest as a reporter of unionism. Yet his news stories, analyses and long interviews with Gerry Adams and others in Sinn Fein and nationalism generally were often equally absorbing, clearly revealing wary mutual respect. Much of the reporting of the tortuous political negotiations over the past fifteen years was necessarily off the record. Great care was needed for the reporter to avoid being used as a pawn in the process. Frank seems to have avoided the pitfalls of complicity that good contacts can sometimes draw you into. In his writing, he cut through the thickets of complexity with ultimate detachment leavened with wit and sheer exuberance. He was never tempted into donning the dangerous mantle of evangelical. Rather than an analyst of policy positions in an era when policy was mainly about positioning, Frank habitually used his considerable forensic skills to test out rival positions and deliver judgments upon them. Going through the wringer with Frank and reading the results became part of the political process itself. A big Frank Millar think piece was required reading for all the players and all others who cared about the outcome. Some of his work mentioned above transcends ephemera and will survive as part of the essential record. I find myself writing about him in the past tense, but we haven’t heard the last on him. Frank is in an almost unused, best sense a Northern Ireland patriot who easily transcended the limitations of his background, without ever wanting to cut adrift the people who made him what he is.

  • Rory Carr

    Not at all…you could make contact with mere foliage. Sorry, this pedant thing is contagious.

    Indeed it is, so you will forgive me if I point out that the foliage of the trees in the wood would in itself be part of the wood.

    Having shot a fellow named An fhirinne gharbh but only in the arse one would could nevertheless reasonably claim that one had shot An fhirinne gharbh. Could one not?

    An fhirinne gharbh of course might claim, “He missed me entirely, he only shot me arse off. That’s nothin’ at all.”

    But would we believe him?

  • CW

    Talking of the Dublin papers, Eoghan Harris made a bit of a gaff in the Sindo:

    http://dreamingarm.wordpress.com

  • MFealty: “…in a newspaper [sic] that has served us well over the years…”

    The Irish Thames!?……….. rubbish newspaper still harbouring the old castle catholic mindset evidenced by their London editor from the UUP inner circle (like father, like son). They haven’t yet cottoned onto the fact that the tem ‘newspaper of record” is a term of abuse.

    Their first team displayed it all: The Madam of D’Olier Street from the PDs. Millar from the UUP. CCOB was from cloud-cuckoo-land.

    Fintan OToole, Keven Myers (now reporting to Sir Anthony O’Beans)

    All international / non-Irish related articles come straight from The Guardian. They only realized that they were other sports outside of rugby in the last decade. Was it Madam Kennedy who admitted that they were an Irish paper with a British viewpoint? As for the Major and the whole “White *igger scandal” which any honest journo would have considered a clear cut example of responsible journalism but, of course, it was sidelined by the Madam of D’Olier Street ?!?!

    The Irish Thames is a disgrace, full of their own importance and thus completely detached from Irish society as they concentrate on Brideshead Revisited.!?!?