Raymond McCartney: “There is no-one trying to pretend…”

On yesterday’s BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback, Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney was adamant that he was the author of an opinion piece which appeared, in his name, in the Derry Journal on 19th July.  An opinion piece which re-appeared, word for word, in the Fermanagh Herald on the 20 July, as a letter to the editor from Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, MP, MLA, and in the Mourne Observer on the 27 July, as a letter to the editor from Sinn Féin’s Willie Clarke, MLA, and then in the Tyrone Times on the 29 July, again as a letter to the editor from Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, MP, MLA.  Today’s Irish News has the money quote from Raymond McCartney.

“It was an opinion piece, it was in my name and I penned it,” [Raymond McCartney] told the BBC.

“There is no-one trying to pretend.  The opinion piece was from me and then used by other people.”

Except that the Irish News has found another example of the same opinion piece.  This time, again word for word, in a column in An Phoblacht, written by Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin, MLA, dated 6 July 2006.

Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, MP, MLA, is, perhaps wisely, denying all knowledge.  From the Irish News article

Ms Gildernew yesterday moved to distance herself from the embarrassing debacle.

“This piece was issued in my name when I was on holidays and it was not drafted or cleared by myself,” she said in a statement.

As the Irish News points out

Mr McCartney did not explain how, if he had written it, it had appeared 5 years previously under a different person’s name.

[That’s a breach of copyright! – Ed]  They should sue…

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  • Reader

    Pete Baker: [That’s a breach of copyright! – Ed] They should sue…
    Specifically because “Articles may not be reproduced without the consent of An Phoblacht.”
    But you have missed the obvious – “Great minds think alike”, as the saying goes. Not to be confused with “Fools seldom differ”

  • Dec

    To be fair to Pete, he’s been churning out the exact same thread on Slugger for years but at least it’s always under his own name.

  • Fortlands

    If I give someone something (in this case a piece of writing) and tell them to use as they will, what’s the problem? Is someone saying McCartney is upset that Gildernew and Co AGREE with him?

  • tomthumbuk

    It’s a bit like the boul’ Gerry recalling the singing of “Always look on the Bright Side of life” in Long Kesh six years before “the Life of Brian” came out.

    Why didn’t someone sue the Pythons for breach of copyright for nicking their song?

    Or maybe too much porridge affects the memory!

  • between the bridges

    Lmao! The SF propaganda machine trying to be a little too slick. So will all these elected representatives now apologies to the public for trying to mislead them?

  • Surely this happens all the time.
    The difference is that Sinn Féin got caught out. It is comparatively meaningless but exactly the sort of niggling that SFs opponents should be doing.
    As Ive said, a lot of SF people MLAs, advisors, staffers etc are interchangeable clones rather than people.
    So no surprise the Press Office dreams up a single letter and its “signed” by a variety of people.
    Are those comment pieces in the Guardian really from the pens of the VIPs or written by the VIPs staff?

    And for those of us familiar (or even who have drafted statements) beginning “In a speech to Party workers last night……”
    Er what speech? Which Party workers?
    Let those without sin etc etc…….
    So SF got caught out? Theyve been caught out in worse.

    Circa 1960, I used to believe that Bobby Charlton really did write “Roy of the Rovers” just like it said every week.
    Please dont tell me its not true.

  • Joe Bloggs

    Didn’t Darkie Hughes say it was impossible to be a member of Sinn Fein without being an accomplished liar?

    (Or words to that effect)

  • J Kelly

    FJH your right so what a few PRO’s sent the same article around local papers under different names, would it not be a better use of time to discuss the article rather than play games around authorship.

  • J Kelly,

    Fair enough. The article makes some valid points about identity and insecurity, neglects to take account of the republican movement’s role in fostering that insecurity, and concludes by placing the onus for change squarely on themmuns. Same old same old.

  • Eglise en bois

    Plagarism – down with that sort of thing

  • Rory Carr

    This story needs more looking into by a top-class experienced investigative journalist.

    Johann Hari perhaps?

  • Rory Carr

    p.s. I was going to challenge Fitzjameshorse on Bobby Charlton’s putative authorship of the Roy of the Rovers cartoon strip but I see that he is in fact correct and Charlton was indeed for a time publicised as its author although of course he was not, but it was felt that using his name would help push sales of the Tiger comic in which the strip featured.

    From Wikipedia’s entry on Roy of the Rovers:

    In 1960, in an attempt to whip up publicity, it was announced that the footballer Bobby Charlton had taken over as writer, although in reality it was still written by [Derek] Birnage [Tiger editor] (who claimed that he did consult with Charlton occasionally for story ideas).

    My memory, I am glad to say, was not at fault – I was merely ignorant – as I had stopped reading comics by this time.

  • Reader

    fitzjameshorse1745: The difference is that Sinn Féin got caught out.
    For Raymond McCartney it’s a bit more than that. He was offered the chance to tell the truth but seemingly refused to take it. Eminently qualified for his party. Over qualified, perhaps.

  • oracle

    McCartney has been caught lying…. he should apologise imediately, if not for the issue of righting a moral wrong then for at leat making him look less of a clown by standing by his initial claim.

    perhaps the real author was in downing street at the time

  • justin.moran

    Good grief. If this is genuinely seen as a story it says a lot more about Talkback and the chap who posted it than anything else. Political parties do this as a matter of routine.

    A friend of mine working for a southern political party would send out the exact same press release to local media outlets around the country, changing only the name of the TD and the county named in the headline.

  • CharlieMcCarthy29

    Joe Bloggs,

    All men are liars.
    I am a man therefore I am a liar.
    And so, all men are not liars.

  • michael-mcivor

    Reporters to this all the time- a same story will appear daily
    in the newspapers- sometimes with the journalist name
    attached- sometimes not- its called- doing the rounds-

  • oracle


    McCartney claimd to be the sole author…..

    what part of dishonesty do you not understand

  • Rory Carr,
    Ah memories. I can recall telling my father that Bobby Charlton wrote Roy of the Rovers as his black and white pic appeared at the top.
    My father told me about “ghost writers”.
    Since then I have tended not to believe a word I read in papers….or childrens comics.

    But surely this is just how these things work. The Baetles used to send out pre-recorded answers to Disc Jockeys who would ask questions such as.
    “How are you enjoying your stay in San Francisco?”
    How are you enjoying your stay in Stockholm?”

    and the Beatles would “answer”
    “oh we love it here”.
    A lot of stuff in papers is done by PR Agencies (and Private Detectives seemingly).
    So why not SF Press Office.
    Embarrassing for them but no real harm.

  • Toastedpuffin

    With so many people claiming authorship, it’s somewhat perplexing to read the thing and discover that it’s shite.

  • Five years on and nothing new to say? It is not the fact that an article is repeated, but that have been pulled of the shelf and re-used, again.

    Odd too that while nationalist’s flying a tricolour is a symbol of national identity, loyalists flying of flags is crisis of identity? How does that work out? Would there not have been part of the SF unionist outreach programme that would have had them learn something new in five years?

  • CharlieMcCarthy29

    happy memories, The tiger, Wizard, Hotspur, Rover. I could only buy one but so did my pals so lots of swapping.

  • Cynic2

    Perhaps he was ghost writing for P O’Neill?

  • Cynic2

    But isn’t the real story here that 5 years on SF have no new ideas – just the regurgitated pap of the mid Noughties.

    And to think McCartney is seen as one of the leading party Strategists. Why do SF worry the Prods so much? Feet of clay.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Here’s a weird thing. There is nearly as many people claiming that it was the piece wot they rote as there are Irish Republican flegs presently befouling the lampposts in Carnlough County Antrim.

    I don’t know what to make of it. Can we call this Plagiarism and Flags Watch Day 1?

  • Rory Carr

    This really is a grave tactical error for Sinn Féin if it has cost it the likely support of one such as Cynic2 who otherwise, I am confident, would have continued to be as stalwart in the party’s support as he has been in the past.

  • Cynic2



    Still its fun pointing out when the Emperor has no clothes. Since Gerry left things seem to be on the slide. Who is now in charge we ask?

  • Alias

    It’s hard to know which is the greater flaw: his lack of integrity or his lack of intelligence.

    The demonstrable absence of both isn’t an electoral drawback, and is probably an advantage for a Shinner. After all, it was British intelligence via its executive control of PIRA’s ISU which vetted all new applications for membership of PIRA, so it was in its strategic interests to recruit the lackwitted and advance them up the ranks.

  • Reader

    Cynic2: Who is now in charge we ask?
    All of them.

  • pauluk

    Gives new meaning to following the party line.

  • lamhdearg

    @ fjh
    did Bobby Charlton ever claim he had written roy of the rovers.

  • Harry Flashman

    Ray McCartney tell a lie? Absurd. He always tells the truth.

    Even the House of Lords believed him when he said he wasn’t part of a gang who almost turned Derry into a tit-for-tat hellhole of sectarian murders akin to North Belfast in the mid 1970’s and do you know what? I believe him too.

    It was a wandering band of evil goblins that did it and I think Jeff Agate actually committed suicide.

  • Brian

    Is it amateur hour? Hahaha what an easily avoidable little mini-scandal

  • HeinzGuderian

    Shockin’ !!!!

    Tell ye what,they’ve lost my vote !!

    Come to think of it,I’ve lost my vote !!

    Just wondering though,when El Beardo speaks,is it really him or a beardy double ?? 😉

  • Quite obviously is new intelligence to steer the masses been withdrawn from Sinn Fein and now all that can be done is to recycle that which they have been fed?

  • Cynic2


    Are you suggesting that since Jonathan Powell stopped writing their speeches for them they are no longer up to it? What a slanderous suggestion.

  • manfromMars

    Are you suggesting that since Jonathan Powell stopped writing their speeches for them they are no longer up to it? What a slanderous suggestion.” ….. Cynic2 5 August 2011 at 10:54 am

    It is never slander whenever true, Cynic2. Shall we lament the fact that MI5 are also a pathetic spent force in the new virtual environment of today too, Cynic2 …… unfit for future leading purpose in their new barracks, Loughside. Pay peanuts, get monkeys is probably part of their problem and imagining that they have to follow orders, rather than give them too. If they had any smashing intelligence themselves, they would have more flash cash available to them than they would know what to do with.

    Now there’s a novel operation they could launch ….. rather than sitting on what is probably a Herman Miller and getting a fat arse for their troubles, which might even be playing online here.

    Methinks, meknows they could do a hell of a lot better, because they appear to be doing so very little and everything on the news is so bad.

  • Pete Baker

    To those complaining that ‘everybody does it’.

    This is not an example of the re-cycling of a central party press release.

    This is an opinion piece and letters to editors in the name of a specific MP and MLAs.

    As Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney, MLA, has said

    “It was an opinion piece, it was in my name and I penned it,” [Raymond McCartney] told the BBC.

    “There is no-one trying to pretend. The opinion piece was from me and then used by other people.”

    That of his 19 July 2011 opinion piece which originally appeared as a column in An Phoblacht, written by Sinn Féin’s Mitchel McLaughlin, MLA, dated 6 July 2006.

  • tomthumbuk

    Pete Baker , As Alan Partridge would say,

    “Back of the net!”.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Drafted and vetted in Connolly House – disseminated to local Sinn Fein offices – reissued to local papers with the name of the local MLA, or Councillor appended, often without his/her knowledge and certainly untouched by their human hand.

    We usually know from its style and grammar when a ‘letter to the press’ by a Sinn Fein spokesman’s letter is real, or ghosted.

    The West Tyrone SF MLA speaks volumes and we easily recognise his speech eg “ Ahm goin til Croke Park til see Tyrone bate Dublin’’ – but his ghost writes using exactly the same standard words, in the same standard style, using the same standard Sinn Fein clichés as Willie Clarke’s and Raymond McCartney’s ghosts – all possessed by the same SF spirit of the departed P. O’ Neill, when letter writing – eerie or what?

  • Cynic2

    Plagiarism ….. lies……. recycling of historic guff in an attempt to con the electorate ……..

    Totally shocking. This must be monitored until arrests are made and ALL the guilty exposed, incarcerated and expelled from public office. The people deserve nothing less.

    I now call on Chris Donnelly to step forward with another piece of brilliant dogged persistent journalism to expose this inefficiency. I know that he’s been tied up in Ballyclare for a few weeks but this too deserves his attention. Pearse and Connolly must be rotating in their graves at the sheer effrontery, incompetence and contempt for the intellect of republican voters.

    So Chris ….. can we now have a series of pieces on, what shall we call it, Statementgate?

    Chris? …………

    Ah Chris? ………

    Are you there Chris?

    Chris? ………………………..


  • Alias

    Raymond McCartney is almost charming in his child-like innocence, isn’t he? He reminds me of the classic of the kid with chocolate and crumbs on his face who insists to his mother that he wasn’t near the cookie jar. How did he imagine that he would not be revealed as liar for telling such a transparent lie to the public? Bizarre.

    While parties tell their hacks what their policies are, the Shinners take it a step further and tell them what their opinions are too.

  • Cynic2

    I call it the Bart Simpson defence

    It wasnt me

    I wasnt there

    The bigger boys made me do it

  • Comrade Stalin

    fjh, no actually I don’t think this is normal in politics.

    Party members, reps or supporters seeking to write to a newspaper may well contact the party centrally to verify that what they are about to write is OK, or they may not, depending on how independently minded they are. I can also imagine that the party may well ask its members to write to their local newspapers drawing attention to a certain matter.

    But I don’t think any other party writes standard letters and gets their elected reps to sign them as their own. That’s something relatively unique to Sinn Féin. They’re a lot more top-down than other parties, even the DUP. Personally if someone gave me a letter and asked me to pass it off as my own, I’d refuse. Not least because it would be immensely embarrassing if either I did not agree with the content, or I was not well informed about the issues it addressed.

  • Dixie Elliott

    I would term it McCartneyism myself…

    Which is the practice of lying and denying lying and continuing to do so even though the lie has become so embarrassing you can no longer lie your way out of it.

    Then again he’s learned from the Master himself.

  • Cynic2


    The difference is that you see to have a strange affection for free will.

    The problem for the Shinenrs is that when the Great Brain at the centre eventually fails, what happens to the party when the drones cannot cope on their own without the ‘guidance’ from above

  • son of sam

    Sinn Fein caught out lying;what a surprise!Pope still Catholic,bears dislike indoor facilities!The surprise is that they were caught out at all.With the lack of critical insight from many local newspapers,no doubt S F not surprisingly thought they would easily get away with it.To take two examples in the West,both the Derry Journal and the Ulster Herald seem quite happy to facilitate whatever piece of doggerel emanates from the local Sinn Fein press office or local M L A.To be fair to the Shinners they do seem to be better organised and obviously a degree of complacency had set in.They really did believe they could get away with anything.Finally, as Cynic 2 has pointed out,why the untypical silence from Chris Donnelly?