Attempt to kill police has shock value/media spin applied?

The pipebomb left at a primary school in Antrim met condemnation from essentially everywhere – those that left it have offered no explanation. That attack was followed a few days later by what the PSNI describe as a viable device being found in Crumlin. Much, if not all, of the media coverage and condemnation of this treated it as another attack directed at children.

However, the police station, where the device was discovered isn’t a primary school – that is across the road, down a bit and all the classrooms are set well back from the road. The device was left behind the steel gate of the PSNI building and was only likely to endanger anyone within the grounds of the station.

The Irish Daily Star seems to stand alone in stating this was a sophisticated booby-trap bomb with potential to kill members of the PSNI and specifically targeted at them.

Have real threats to the lives of PSNI officers become so commonplace and lacking in shock value that such incidents now need to be spun to seem like deliberate attempts to kill/injure children?

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  • White Horse

    Straight from the sociopath’s school of thought, Mark. Children just attract more publicity.

  • Mark McGregor


    Children do attract more publicity but if it is wrong, unjustified and immoral to try to kill members of the PSNI why not have that up front and central – that was what was happened. Spinning it as an attack on children when they clearly weren’t the target seems like media management.

    We’ve been here before.

  • Carrickmoreman

    When reported like this, it’s hard to believe other bits of information that’s planted in the media. For example: Fr. Chesney.

  • Mark

    What you say makes sense Mark but also raises a further question about reportage of the Antrim pipebomb: the media’s failure to identify it as a sectarian attack by a loyalist gang against Catholic children. The fact that the second attack was located (by the media at least) at an integrated school helps muddy the waters further and follow the narrative of unaligned malcontents attempting to cause mayhem. If what we have is, as appears to be, a loyalist attack on Catholic children followed by a republican attack on the PSNI then the media have been either shamefully lazy in their reporting or are following their own agenda.

  • The MSM in the north, and maybe even in the south, are well trained…

    It is not, of course it is not, as despicable to murder an adult as it is to murder a child. How does it come to this. There’s a scale now?

  • Blair


    Is it not the case that if the bomb had exploded in the police station then the children in the school would have faced the danger of serious injury or death?

    It’s rather like the Enniskillen or Shankill bombs. Set up for specific targets, but very much in the knowledge that large numbers of civilains must also surely be mutilated and killed.

    Therefore surely it is perfectly legitimate to highlight the fact that these bastards do care a toss about murdering children.

  • GreenBack

    I don’t think it’s unique to Northern Ireland.
    You’ve only got to listen to coverage of natural disasters/man made disasters/wars/terrorism anywhere in the world to hear the phrase ‘women and children’ injured or killed.
    Children are the most vulnerable and perhaps it’s a human instinct to consider them first in any terrible event. In these type of situations I think it’s natural instinct to consider children more ‘innocent’ than adult victims/potential victims.

  • White Horse

    It seems that it is only you who is spinning this line. Who else thinks that the PSNI are at fault? Just using their commonsense.

  • Mark McGregor


    Who is spinning what?

    There was a very deliberate attempt to kill members of the PSNI.

    That seems to have become an attack on the children at Crumlin Primary in much/most of the MSM.

    Why can’t it be called for what it was?

  • HeinzGuderian

    I’m not sure if this is a whinge or a ‘our cowardly,scumbag terrorists are better than yours’ thread ??

    Either way……………no one was killed.

  • Alias

    The SoS talked about a rock being dropped on the head of PSNI officer at the Ardoyne rioting, and the PSNI spoke of attempted murder. That was snazzier than pointing out that a piece of masonry was dislodged from a building by a police water cannon, wherein a lack of proper training by the PSNI of their water cannon operators almost resulted in an act of involuntary manslaughter aganst one of the PSNI own employees. The NI have always been – with a fraction of exception – cheap whores of the state.

  • Alias

    Typo: “The NI media have always been…”

  • Blair


    Point of order. Is that confirmed? Iirc there is a gentleman of Spanish origin who has been charged with attempted murder over that incident. One would assume that the CCTV footage would be capable of discerning how the slab was dislodged. Whether by the water cannon or by the gentleman who travelled overseas to be outraged by Prod marchers.

  • Secret Squirrel

    I’d have thought you’d have the opinion that it is as despicable to murder an adult as it is to murder a child.
    You being against all violence and that.
    Apologies if you’ve since turned over a new leaf.

  • Secret Squirrel

    Dont you mean not at all secret sheep?

  • Reader

    Mark McGregor: However, the police station, where the device was discovered isn’t a primary school – that is across the road, down a bit and all the classrooms are set well back from the road. The device was left behind the steel gate of the PSNI building and was only likely to endanger anyone within the grounds of the station
    The only article you linked to contradicts you, in that it says there were several booby traps. So your implication that the general public were protected by a steel gate isn’t going to be true of all of the devices. The only thing that was protecting the public from triggering the device was a security fence that had clearly already been breached, and equally it wasn’t going to prevent blast and shrapnel injuries to passers by, whoever triggered the device.
    The Belfast Telegraph article seems to add a bit more relevant detail “An explosive device has been found outside an unmanned police station in Northern Ireland”.
    And in spite of your challenge over the distance between the bomb and the school, you don’t provide an actual distance between the bomb and the classrooms, between the bomb and the school gate, and between the bomb and the pavement. Your phrase “across the road, down a bit” doesn’t really tell me whether I would want my children to be attending that school when the bomb went off. My first guess – “of course not”

  • Secret Squirrel

    I mean I’d have thought you’d have the opinion that it is as despicable to murder an adult as it is to murder a child.

    In what context would the secretive sheep be introduced into the above ?

  • Secret Squirrel

    if it helps you to sleep better I will answer your question.

    I believe it is wrong to harm anyone, but if I had to choose I would say save a child first. I think that is clear enough, even for a little sheep.

  • Secret Squirrel

    Restating that you believe it is wrong to harm anyone dovetails with my initial assertion that you were and are against all violence.

    Now I understand you’re applying a scale of sorts.
    How has it come to this. Is there a scale now ?

  • A.N.Other

    Did an earlier version of this post not say that the device was aimed at the PSNI..?

    I was going to ask how you knew this; but the text has now changed somewhat.

  • joeCanuck

    I don’t know how many angels can dance on a pinhead but I do know that, in a democracy, it’s wrong to plant a bomb to kill anyone. That would be a man woman or child.

  • Peter Brown

    Amen to that Joe

    The attack in Antrim itself was a pipe bomb which as has been pointed out elsewhere on this site is a modern and slightly less sophisticated version of the stick of dynamite from westerns in that you light the fuse, throw it, it explodes shortly thereafter and if it does not like the fireworks from which it is usually made it is unilkely to go off ever. There was no attempt to murder schooolchildren unless it was thrown while there were in the area into which it was thrown which I do not believe was the case. Once it failed to explode it was unlikely it was going to do so at any point. As a weapon it is like those who threw it – crude and often barely viable. The attack was despicable and for endangering the children however slightly by not reporting its failure to explode leaving it to be found and carried into the school by an 8 year old pupil merits a lengthy prison term but is unlikely to justify an attempted murder charge. Personally – whoever was responsible derserves to be out out of their misery as a mercy for them rather than a punishment for attacking a school in this way.

    Trying to distinguish the Crumlin attack as a much less serious incident is in my opinion at best disingenuous and at worst misleading – only the Crumlin device if it was as reported realistically had potentially fatal consequences.

    The attempt to create a hierarchy of potential victimhood is worrying even from you Mark. Also there were a number of incidents where innocent bystanders were injured and killed as a result of triggering devices meant for the security forces or being in close proximity if they were triggered by members of the security forces (if I had Lost Lives to hand I could give examples but off the top of my head wan’t an electricity meter reader killed in the Stranmillis area after triggering a booby trap and local residents killed in an attack at the Falls Baths?)

    This device was presumably designed to go off when the premsies were being opened by the arrival of officers – what if this happened at school traffic time with children in close proximity to the gates or if the gates were opened by someone other than police offciers (or any other legitimate target – an oxymoron in this context). Given the nature of the device the bombers have no control over how and when it explodes….

  • demeceface

    Off topic mark, but could you send me your email please as I’ve misplaced it.Thanks.Guest.

  • Mr Crumlin

    Mark – so your basic argument is that those that planted the booby trap in the unmanned station didnt get the credit they deserved? That they are a better class of bomber?

    My wife rang me to say the school had been evacuated etc. I turned on the news which said a school had been evacuated, along with 30 residents, due to a suspicious device at a near by police station. That sounds pretty accurate to me.

    I have some sympathy with your points about Antrim – particularly the early reporting which made no mention of loyalists. However before you jump all over the media it should be remembered that the wee lad that picked up the device was all over the news for two days (and rightly so).

    But lets face it, there would be no ‘media spin’ at all if those people did not plant bombs.

    As a Crumlin resident (one of the blow ins from west Belfast) I was very angry that this bomb was left in our village. A bomb is not an exact science – you plant one and you can never be sure of the outcome.

    Selective media viewing may be the thing that gets your blood boiling – for me it is that some people believe that planting bombs in residential areas will free Ireland.

  • Comrade Stalin

    That was snazzier than pointing out that a piece of masonry was dislodged from a building by a police water cannon

    This is a pathetic lie, and examination of the footage clearly shows an individual pushing the coping stone off.

    You can’t dislodge stones with a water cannon. It has same pressure at that distance as a garden hose.

  • Rory Carr

    If this device was one of a series planted at a PSNI facility then the assumption presumably is that they were placed there by one group of Republican dissidents or another.

    Mark seems to take exception to news reporting that seemed to indicate that the target was the school rather than the PSNI and that therefore the intention of whichever dissident group responsible was being besmirched – their targets were coppers not children so to speak. Would that be a fair summary of your piece above, Mark?

    If so then we need to explain the strange phenomenon of the news report on Loyalist gangs on Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning during which it was indicated by context that the pipe-bomb was part of a Loyalist sectarian attack on Catholic school-children, part of a growing concern over Loyalist splinter groups taking such actions, particularly in the Antrim area.

    So, according to the MSM we either have dissident Republicans being careless as to the lives of Catholic schoolchildren or Loyalist groups being careless in carrying out successful attacks on Catholic schoolchildren or, according to Mark, we have dissident Republicans on “legitimate” action against the police being unfairly blamed for placing Catholic schoolshildren in danger..

    Bewildered? Yes, so am I.

  • aquifer

    Irish separatists practice armed blackmail and innocent children and parents will die needlessly, as nobody will again tolerate being ratcheted towards an all island state by murder and intimidation. Because we know that if we concede anything to one pistol gang, another pistol gang pops up asking for more, wheter it is a socialist commune, islamic state, or compulsory service in catholic choirs for all.

    And if some idiot blinds themselves stuffing fireworks into tubes, no doubt they are also a victim of british imperialism.

  • Mark McGregor

    If I had any idea who you are I might do that but I don’t so I can’t.

  • joeCanuck

    Don’t forget, as I said on another thread, that the 1st priority for newspapers is to make a profit, not to inform the public. Spin sells.

  • Feachadoir

    Dia Duit Mark

    I have appreciated your contributions to Slugger for some considerable time now. Maith an fear.

    Noticed this today, (scroll down for the scanned article) thought the additional detail might interest you having read your general point about misdirection in this thread some weeks ago.*******ts

    Ádh Mór Ort