The Case of the Stolen Photographs

Last Sunday, Ciaran Barnes ran a story in the Sunday Life quoting a ‘senior republican source’ who expressed anger about the Liam Adams scandal and made a bit of a stink about his involvement with Sinn Fein in West Belfast. Photos of Liam Adams with Fra McCann, Tom Hartley and West Belfast youths were printed. These photos had previously been published in the Andersonstown News, whose coverage of the scandal has been more or less supportive of Adams and by extension, Sinn Fein, which is understandable as Sinn Fein and its community involvement is the Andersonstown News’ bread and butter. To expose the full extent of the child abuse scandal and do some real investigative reporting about who knew what when and who signed off on who where – which Barnes’ report hinted at doing – would cause real problems for Teach Basil. As such, head honcho Máirtín Ó Muilleoir’s blog has been noticeably quiet on the issue, only posting a couple times to complain about how the rest of the media has been examining the issue. Today, however, he really let loose, and is ready to call in PC Plod (or at least the Belfast Media Group’s lawyers). Does he know where Liam Adams is, one wonders? Has he uncovered other victims of abuse? Will the Andersonstown News be breaking this story wide open, and really exposing the extent of corruption in West Belfast?

Not quite.

On Sunday past, the Sunday Life newspaper in Belfast printed several photographs belonging to the Belfast Media Group without our permission.

The photographs had images of alleged sex abuser Liam Adams.

The newspaper says the photographs were given to them by a “senior republican source” who also kindly gave the newspaper’s reporter Ciaran Barnes (late of this parish) a series of quotes injurious to Gerry Adams.

Copyright and protection of same is the number one priority of the news industry at present and woe betide anyone who would appropriate the property, intellectual or otherwise, of Sunday Life owner Tony O’Reilly and his Independent News and Media empire.

The Sunday Life tell me they didn’t know the press-quality photos (two of which have appeared in successive editions of the Belfast Media Group titles) weren’t the property of the “senior republican source”.

The mind boggles: do we call in PC Plod to find out who has been filching our property and flogging or gifting it to the Sunday Life? Or do we presume that Ciaran Barnes was duped by his “senior republican source” who didn’t reveal the provenance of the “exclusive snaps” (that’s “exclusive snaps” in the tabloid sense of “have appeared in other publications first”)? Or that Ciaran, lead journo on the story, hadn’t seen the photos in the Belfast Media Group titles?

Unimaginable as those scenarios are, they are certainly more credible than the wholly wicked suggestion that the photos were stolen and the quotes made up by the Sunday Life “crime reporter”. I for one believe that theory doesn’t hold water. For if it did, no one would believe anything they read in the Sunday papers?

So, I’m handing the whole sorry affair over to the guys who get well-paid to sort these transgressions out: the lawyers and heading off to enjoy my 50th birthday and the New Year celebrations. – From the Balcony, A Publisher’s Blog

Earlier, Ó Muilleoir had written:

Anyone who is interested in moving beyond the Gerry Adams-bashing agenda into resolving this up-to-now ignored legacy of the conflict should be asking republicans, the police and the social services to look again at the cases of child sex abuse which, reported to the authorities or not, were never adequately probed because of the conflict on our streets. I have no doubt that there will be some uncomfortable home truths to be faced on all sides if such a process is to be undertaken.

Anyone except for those who feel they have to go outside the Belfast Media Group to get the real story published?

All is not lost. Maybe the next Andersonstown News will have Robin Livingstone putting the hard questions to Liam Adams. Now that would be a real scoop, wouldn’t it?

  • Mark McGregor

    For if it did, no one would believe anything they read in the Sunday papers?

    …and by extension the entire BMG as Barnes has worked for them?

  • Alias

    If Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is making a bold declaration that he will take legal proceedings against any media that uses his paper’s historical content to show that Liam Adams was far from persona non grata within the Shinners inner circle as is now the official Shinner line, my cynical guess is that he not acting to restrict press freedom in reporting facts relevant to the public interest because of a greedy capitalist desire to make money off his historical content by licensing the use of the images to other media (with permission to use the images highly unlikely to have been granted in this instance) but because he does not want that content to be used to show that the official Shinner line is pure horseshit. There is probably a lot more incriminating data in those archives that the Shinners are worried about. What use is a media that is on the side of the state and its puppets and not on the side of the public?

  • Blair

    It looks like Mr O’Millionaire is desperately trying to muddy the waters.

  • Gael gan Náire

    “a greedy capitalist desire to make money off his historical content by licensing the use of the images to other media”

    Surely one has the right to dictate how ones property is used?

    A business man defending his business, plain and simple.

    Or is it the old republicans should own businesses line?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    While the rest of of us have been discussing child abuse and Adams’ lies, only O’Millionaire has managed to cut through the fog and identify the real issue – Marty’s intellectual property rights.

    I think this may be his hardest hitting and most relevant piece since some evil imperialist stuck a little union jack on his packet of streaky bacon.

  • Blair


    Do you reckon he was planning a big scoop that would undermine Uncle Gerry’s story himself? I think that’s highly unlikely. In which case his only interest in owning these pictures would be to bury them frompublic view.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    ps. Congrats to Mr. Barnes on his new career as a journalist.

  • tacapall

    Who gives a fiddlers what Máirtín Ó Muilleoir says or thinks or squinter, who got a thick ear for calling for Gerry A’s head after Bap McGreevy’s murder, now he backs Gerry up to the hilt. People in the Republican Movement let a child rapist work with OUR children, and after reading the Andytown news today, well Rupert Murdock would not get a look in with those guys. Censorship is back but this time its by the so called good guys. They are insulting the people of west belfast’s intellegence. Not a letter nor a text published about this affair do they think everyone is stupid. I hope they bring someone to court over those photos cause no matter wheither they win or lose, I know plenty of people wont buy that rag again.

  • Mr Crowley

    Known British government funding for the Anderstown News amounts to £551,635 or £110,327 per year for the years 1999–2004. This was disclosed during a house of lords debate when the issue was raised by Sylvia Hermon.

    This figure far outweighs the funding given to any other ‘newspaper’ in the 6. You have to question how the ATN could ever be expected to be objective in their views regarding those who fund them to such and extent.

    The ATN’s coverage of the Liam Adams affair, which amounts to ‘protect Dear Leader at all cost to credibility’ is most reminiscent of their attempts to cover for Liam’s colleague Freddie Scap.

  • padraig

    Don’t hold your breath waiting on the At News doing anything.

  • Mr Crowley

    Don’t hold your breath waiting on the At News doing anything.
    Posted by padraig on Dec 31, 2009 @ 04:47 PM

    What they will do is try to protect Dear Leader who did nothing to protect the children his brother had access to for over 20 years. They will also attempt to deflect attention from Dear Leader’s lies and they will continue to be funded by the British government in their efforts to do so.

  • John O’Connell

    and really exposing the extent of corruption in West Belfast?

    What is the extent of corruption in West Belfast, or am I being naive?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Andersonstown News:
    Voice of Banana Republicanism?
    Irish Echo, June 11, 2003

    As the largest newspaper in west Belfast, the Andersonstown News serves much the same function for Sinn Fein as Pravda once did for the Soviet politbureau and that Fox News now does for the Bush administration. It is a dependable organ of banana republicanism, promoting Dear Leadership and attacking dissenters with zeal.

    Milking this cash cow publication as chief executive is the former Sinn Fein councillor Mairtin O Muilleoir, who kindly poured me a cup of tea at a book party a couple of years back (the tea was weak but the service was pleasant enough). I’ve never met the editor, an excitable scribbler named Robin Livingstone, but for several years have watched with amusement as he strolls into the propellers with depressing regularity.

    Recently Livingstone conducted an exclusive, highly-touted interview with the high tout, Freddie Scappaticci, the man widely named as the British agent in the IRA code-named Stakeknife. A rigorous Q&A it wasn’t. To wit: Scappaticci claimed that when told he would be named as the most important mole in IRA history, he simply went to sleep then strolled to a gas station the next day to pick up a paper. Livingstone apparently didn’t think this faintly absurd sequence worthy of further examination.

    Of course, Scappaticci was asked if he was a British double-agent. Never, he replied, before proceeding through the remaining chatter unmolested by troublesome inquiries. It was akin to asking Henry Kissinger if he would like to publicly deny being a war criminal then boasting about having asked the tough question when he cheerfully accepts the offer.

    The interview seemed to be less about defending an innocent man against allegations by a venal press than about protecting Sinn Fein from the grave implications of the Stakeknife revelations. As an effort to declare the Scappaticci story bogus – the shoddy work of a ‘mischievous’ media, in Dear Leader’s usual terminology – it failed miserably.

    Writing in the online magazine The Blanket, Anthony McIntyre gleefully punched holes in the interview, noting that Scappaticci’s denial convinced few people in Belfast. Once an imprisoned IRA member, McIntyre is now such an effective and articulate critic of Sinn Fein that his home has been picketed by the party faithful, including an Andersonstown News editor. This has not dulled his acid commentary on the republican leadership and its water-carriers.

    While Scappaticci has not initiated a single defamation proceeding despite being accused of heinous crimes, the newspaper has taken up the cudgel in his stead.

    McIntyre’s article was linked on Newshound, the popular website of news about Northern Ireland. In response, the freedom-loving folks at the Andersonstown News threatened Newshound founder John Fay with a libel action. Faced with the punitive cost of defending a baseless suit, Fay was forced to remove links to two articles by McIntyre. Only one of the stories directly criticized Livingstone and the newspaper; the other discussed Sinn Fein’s hysterical reaction to the Stakeknife saga, with only a passing reference to what McIntyre calls the “Andytout News”.

    This suggests that the newspaper’s executives were concerned with more than defending their reputations – a notion bolstered by the fact that no similar legal threat was issued to McIntyre or The Blanket. Demanding Newshound remove both stories suggests that the Andersonstown News wants to limit the reach of any theory on Stakeknife that conflicts with the official version as handed down in its pages.

    Livingstone has a history of browbeating critics. In 2001, incensed at jabs by Newton Emerson’s satirical Portadown News website, he had the joker fired by informing his employer that the site was updated during working hours. This contemptible move backfired when Emerson became a regular media presence. McIntyre too is frequently attacked in Livingstone’s pages but is denied right of reply, even in a letter to the editor.

    Shinners often snarl that McIntyre is motivated by a personal animus toward party leaders, the same limp smear directed at Ed Moloney even before he published his masterful history of the IRA last year. But those who write with honesty and integrity are seldom applauded by politicians who survive on subtle obfuscation and outright lies.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Censorship is now endemic in the republican movement. Debate is stifled and dissension is met with assault, kidnap and murder. The Stakeknife fiasco could prove devastating to Sinn Fein, no matter how many loyal apparatchiks try to sow doubt in the public mind by dismissing it as a British dirty trick. With customary clumsiness, the Andersonstown News has only exposed Sinn Fein’s desperation to bury the story and attack those with the temerity to ask awkward questions. It would seem that in west Belfast asking for information is the mark of the enemy, not passing information to the British.

    There are many in Irish America who backed Sinn Fein’s right to be heard here. Anyone genuinely committed to open debate and the free flow of ideas ought to be standing four square behind Anthony McIntyre and John Fay and resolutely against the squalid and censorious intimidation of the Andersonstown News.

  • Paul

    the republican movement can try to stifle what they like they having being trying to deflect attention away from Gerry Adams ever since this scandal broke and have faied miserably.It hasnt worked and will not work get it there are questions to be answered gerry adams has told blantant untruths hes finished and its only a matter of time the cover up being attempted is laughable.The antics (spinning)trolls/spinners of Sinn fein trying in vain to get adams off the hook is and are disgracful

  • Mr Crowley

    New Year Message From Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams In his New Year message Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today said:
    [edit]Blah blah bankers, GFA, P+J, no mention of Catholic church sex abuse, blah blah [/edit]

    ““Aside from politics, personally the last number of weeks have been a difficult period for my family and myself. I would like to thank people across Ireland who have been in touch to express their solidarity with us at this time.” ENDS

    That’s right, at the end of the day it’s all about Gerry A.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Well of course he is the real victim here. Good to see his loyal fans out in force today though.

  • Paul

    They should change the name of the Ant news to the west belfast sinn fein news.With Gerry Adams being chief political editor.

  • Alias

    “Surely one has the right to dictate how ones property is used? ” – Gael gan Nire

    Who said he doesn’t own the images and is not entitled to licence the use of them? That wasn’t the contention: it was why he has chosen to get ‘protective’ about the use of images that show the alleged kiddie fiddler being photograghed with members of the Shinner inner circle while working with kids in his brother’s heartland at a time when his brother claims that he was persona non grata and claims that he had no knowledge that he was working there.

  • disgusted poleglass housewife

    Ive just read Gerry Adams blog in the Andersonstown news ,Does he really get £9.000 a year for that crap what a waste of paper I wont be buying that shite again and in passing I.m proud to say I never bought a single copy of Daily Ireland

  • Alias

    Liam Adams obviously felt confident enough that none of The Adams Family would object to someone they knew was an alleged paedophile having access to kids since he wasn’t at all shy about having a picture of him published in the Andersonstown News working with kids in West Belfast.

    Or was it that he thought that none of the substantial Adams family read the Andersonstown News and would be alarmed to see an alleged paedophile working with vulnerable kids? Did he think that if even that was the case that no-one else who knew a member of the extended Adams family would mention seeing a photo of “your Liam” in the papers? Did he think that none of Gerry’s Shinner friends who he was photographed with would mention it to Gerry? Or was it simply the case that this ‘protected species’ knew that Gerry would look after him and that all of the other members of the Adams family who might have thought that it fits a pattern of paedophiles to seek employment where they have access to vulnerable kids would not inform his employer about the allegation about him because the Adams Family code of silence would protect him and leave the kids vulnerable to his alleged perverted desires?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “Liam Adams obviously felt confident enough that none of The Adams Family would object to someone they knew was an alleged paedophile having access to kids since he wasn’t at all shy about having a picture of him published in the Andersonstown News working with kids in West Belfast.”

    Maybe he thought the photographer was from one of the Sundays. Gerry doesn’t read those. Apparently.

  • Interesting though that the Stakeknife controversy, which would seem to have a lot more potential to harm SF, has blown over with very little damage.

    The party faithful still follow the leadership line that Scapaticci was not Stakeknife. It doesn’t matter that this line is ludicrous.

    The voters, more importantly, still turn out in even bigger numbers to vote for them.

    Sinn Fein really is a teflon party.

  • Grassy Noel

    Jaysus, this just gets worse. O’Muilleoir has the perfect platform to inform his readers about this despicable case. He has the opportunity to clarify and illuminate this sordid and murky tale. So what does he do?

    He threatens and disparages a former ATN hack for having the temerity to do his job for him.

    This is disgusting. Ciaran Barnes, if you’re reading this, more power to you, sir.

    What is going on here? How dare he insult the intelligence of his readership in this way?

    F him and the horse he rode in on.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Is that the Shinner’s line? That Scap was not Stakeknife? They are maintaining that it was all a dirty trick by the British to humiliate their “glorious” armed struggle?

  • heamaisbharney

    Mr Crowley, I had a read of the dear leader’s new Year message and have a strange feeling that there are sentiments missing that used to feature largely; didn’t Gerry use to talk about British withdrawal, a united Ireland, and other related issues just a few years ago or am I mistaken?

  • Mr Crowley

    Mr Crowley, I had a read of the dear leader’s new Year message and have a strange feeling that there are sentiments missing that used to feature largely; didn’t Gerry use to talk about British withdrawal, a united Ireland, and other related issues just a few years ago or am I mistaken?
    Posted by heamaisbharney on Jan 02, 2010 @ 07:05 PM

    Adams PLC would be more concerned by the withdrawal of British financing that could result from such disloyal rhetoric. Then again he may have filled his lie quota on Liamgate and has none left for dishonest, empty rhetoric.

  • heamaisbharney

    But, Mr Crowley, you seem to be suggesting that the dear leader, blessed be his grey beard, may not mean what he says and, moreover, many never have meant what he said when he talked about a united Ireland and said that Ireland with any part of it still under British control would be a recipe for disaster.
    Do you think he is aware of this himself or has the dear leader fallen under some sort of spell? How could that be when he doesn’t even read the Sunday papers?

  • Mr Crowley

    If you look at some of the statements made over the years by Dear Leader and Comical Marty and consider how many people were inspired by them, towards gaol cells and early graves, so that the toxic twins could spend their twilight years on the gravy train it does all seem like a massive fraud at the expense of the rest of us.

  • The BMG crying over copywrite – now that’s a laugh.
    Sure, weren’t they the ones who used a photo of rapist William Mason lifted directly from the BBC website that appearend on the front page of the ATN in June. Not a payment to the BBC, not even a credit. I’ve lost count of the amount of photos in the Andytown News, or the BMG’s other titles for that matter, that have been taken straight off the internet, from the BBC, Irish News, Bel Tel.
    According to Maritin’s blog copyright is the number one priority for any media orgnaisation. And there’s me thinking it was the truth. I wonder what else on Liam Adams that the BMG has hidden in its vaults?