Orangemen join UUP Leader in opposing free expression in local press

Civil liberties for all, just not in a Fermanagh newspaper. The UUP Leader, Tom Elliot, has joined the Fermanagh Orange Order in demanding that the Impartial Reporter editor remove a weekly columnist. Mary Lynch, sister of Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch, has been writing a weekly column in the local paper, much to the angst of Mr. Elliot and the Orange Order, who have written to the paper demanding she be removed as a columnist.

Tom Elliot told the Irish News that for Mrs Lynch “to have an open platform through [the Impartial Reporter] is not helpful to broader society.” (my italics.)

Editor, Denzil McDaniel, is clearly not impressed, stating:

I have no difficulty in people expressing opposition to Mary Lynch’s column….However, I would draw the line on those who don’t like her column calling for her to be removed from the paper. That is censorship and an affront to the right of freedom of expression.


  • keano10

    Is she also ‘scum’ i wonder? Tom’s got a pretty big list of scumbags on his daily radar, does’nt he? Wonder what ‘ liberal ‘ ex journo Mike Nesbitt makes of this attempted censorship? Oh, forgot – he’s Toms best buddy isnt he? The UUP’s version of The Attwood lapdog…

  • Neil

    Seems to an exercise in demonstrating his impotence. Well done.

  • ranger1640

    Here is how wee Marty deals with the media

  • Chris, perhaps you might like to add this link to your opening thread; it’s Mary Lynch “The truth hurts, so let’s all face it and move on” in the Impartial Reporter

  • Neil

    Interesting Nevin. A couple of lines for Tomo to have a read at:

    I was not surprised that someone wrote in to complain about me and to be honest it hurt – not the fact that he complained as everyone is entitled to their opinion

    And given the following I wonder what the Tominator’s problem with her is?

    I wish to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies to any member of either the Protestant or Unionist community that feels that I have upset them in anyway with my words – that was never my intention.

    After 33 years living away from the North I still consider myself a Northerner (one that never belonged to any organization, Political Party and no longer to any Religion).

    Is it because her brother is ‘the scum of Sinn Fein’?

  • ranger1640

    Here is how Gerry Adams deals with the media. Don’t get smart with him, Gerry doesn’t like it.

  • Bugsy

    The Impartial Reporter would traditionally have been viewed as the unionist paper in fermanagh. It has for quite a few years now been trying to maximise its Catholic readership e.g. with the GAA now being the main sport in the paper.

    They have now employed a republican columnist in the form of Mary Lynch. I’m interested in politics and would generally read a politicial column whatever the slant of the writer. The thing though with Mary is that she doesn’t cover anything particularly up to date or relevant to the current polticial situation, she’s far from cutting edge. Instead in her rather dull columns which are tough work to read in full as they’re frankly poor we’re treated to republican propaganda like poems about the hunger strikers and general ramblings which go nowhere about men marching with “British flags on Irish soil”.

    I have personally heard local prods give off about the column. It was a tricky one for Tom Elliott and the likes of the local Orange Order. Do you let this fairly dull and untalented writer work away and ignore it or do you speak up for your voters/members and voice your concern and risk turning her into a martar when her column doesnt really deserve it.

    They spoke up and now they’ve turned her into this “persecuted republican” up against the big bad OO, a role she no doubt revels in.

    Her column is now pretty much untoucable I’d have thought as the Impartial can’t been seen to back down to the OO / Tom Elliott or it would lose the catholic leadership its so desperately going after. Maybe instead the Impartial will take onboard the Orange Order’s comments that if they are going to provide a platform to allow a republican glorify the IRA how about giving a platform to someone of the unionist persuasion?

  • Dec

    ‘The thing though with Mary is that she doesn’t cover anything particularly up to date or relevant to the current polticial situation, she’s far from cutting edge.’


    Are the columns she writes on the victims of abuse ‘cutting edge’ enough for you?

  • Chris Donnelly

    So basically you’re saying that Prods shouldn’t have to listen to the opinions of the other side in their newspaper?

    That’s poor fare, in my mind.

    Papers with a predominantly nationalist slant- like the Irish News and even North Belfast News- have had columnists from a unionist background for many years, and rightly so.

    Even if you disagree with the points being articulated on a regular basis, what does it suggest about a political culture which prefers to restrict the expression of viewpoints to those with which they broadly concur?

  • pippakin

    Poor Tom Elliot he really doesn’t have a clue, pity him but pity the UUP more, they need more and better than that.

  • Joe Bloggs

    If her columns are of the same standard as her ‘truth hurts’ piece I believe we can expect a surge in the suicide rate of County Fermanagh. Absolute drivel.

    As someone who prefers to read news and opinion of ‘themmuns’ (I’d buy the Irish News before any other paper) there is an obvious problem with the standard of her work – not her background or subject choices.

    Her writing is not fit to grace the pages of a primary school newsletter.

  • Bugsy


    Are the columns she writes on the victims of abuse ‘cutting edge’ enough for you?”

    Just giving my opinion! Normally when I glance at her column it’s some boring story about what happened her in the 1980s when her family were being persecuted by the big bad brits.

    Regarding your comments Chris, I would agree with your comments largely. I think it does people good to listen to an alternative viewpoint that challenges their own opinion. My main issue with Mary Lynch’s column is that it is rubbish, I’d happily read some republican columnist which dealt with more current matters and cut out the in your face IRA worship.

    I’ve a thick enough skin so her comments don’t annoy me particularly but I can understand how her simplistic glorification of the IRA would offend some of the Impartial’s readership, Fermanagh offcourse being a county that suffered considerably from this organisation.

  • Turgon

    I think Bugsy has a good point. I do not routinely buy the Impartial but frequently read it at other people’s houses (a good strategy to save money).

    In actual fact my issue with Lynch’s stuff is that it is poorly written and rambling. It is not so much her politics as the quality of writing and the sort of misty eyed nonsense which goes nowhere and has no structure.

    Take a well written piece of work by republicans. Without wanting to reignite the debate about it the republican opinion piece on loyalist flags is well written. I may disagree with it and I may feel a lot of holes can be poked in the argument but it is a coherent piece of work. The same is true of a number of other republicans. Anthony McIntyre’s stuff is well written and well presented. I may disagree with it: there may be flaws etc. but it is well written.

    In contrast Lynch’s stuff rarely has a proper beginning, middle or end and also has no real substance. I often write about myself and people have criticised that. However, Lynch seems to write about herself more than most and without any form of laughing at herself and the absurdities in her own life (we all have absurdities in our lives and if one wants to write about oneself a bit of humour at one’s own expense is well advised). Essentially she takes herself far too seriously and has way too little talent as a writer to take herself remotely as seriously as she does.

    I am sure with little effort the Impartial could find a local republican to write for them who would produce much higher quality and more intereting stuff. I am not suggesting the Impartial should ditch republican writers just that they find one who can write something interesting and readable.

    Overall of course the Impartial has been courting the nationalist community a great deal. The Fermanagh Herald has been doing the same with the unionist community. I suspect both want (entirely reasonably) to maximise circulation. To be honest I tend to the view that the Herald is now a better paper in most ways. It has at least as good content and also does the sorts of things one expects of a local paper. It does things like putting the pictures of the P1 class children in the paper at the start of each school year. Going forward I wonder if there is a market for both local papers in Fermanagh and if only one survives in terms of quality it should probably the Herald.

  • between the bridges

    Ah you have got to feel sorry for poor wee mary, imagine not agreeing with her sectarian bile. As for an editor commenting on censorship am I alone in finding that ironic? Perhaps an impartial editor would have a unionist or even god forbid a loyalist columnist as a balance?
    But there are no PUL columnists in the impartial reporter, how very impartial editorial censorship is….

  • michael-mcivor

    The nazi’s went for the news papers fist-
    thats why the fermanagh orange and tom lie a lot will lose-

  • Bugsy

    Well said Turgon. You articulated my viewpoint much better than I managed to do.

  • ranger1640

    When Squinter put his article in the Andersonstown News criticising Gerry Adams. The Andersonstown news removed the offending article.

    I believe it was removed after complaints from Adams or Sinn Fein.

    So basically are we to believe that republicans shouldn’t have to listen to the opinions of their own side in their own newspaper?

  • between the bridges

    MM…’The nazi’s went for the news papers fist-‘
    lol sound’s a rather painful version of goodwins…

  • Nunoftheabove

    What, if anything, is revealing about this is not that the almost beyond parody figure of Elliott doesn’t ‘get ‘free speech (although he’s well capable of being iffy on this all on his own, don’t misunderstand) but that he so effortlessly and publicly demonstrates time and again his absolute determination not to rattle the most reactionary of cages – those who he regards as either his grass roots or his natural constituency, almost irrespective of the issue or principle. Perhaps now their his only fig-leaf.

    If I was any form of mildly progressive UUP member or supporter, looking to the outward secular ground and to mass appeal, I’d be feeling mightily dispirited by yet another howler from the pathos-heavy so-called party so-called leader. If he was a goalkeeper he’d have long been fired on the grounds that someone making that number of schoolboy errors that regualrly couldn’t possibly not be taking bribes.

  • Turgon

    You are much too kind. Your comment was every bit as relevant and appropriate.

    I am reminded of writing from a completely different source. I am interested in cars. One of the car magazines is called Evo: it would be arguably the least macho and most sensible of the magazines devoted to fast cars; no naked women and few ads for body kits. They also have a reputation for good writing.

    At one stage they employed as a columnist Gordon Murray who is an absolutely brilliant engineer and car designer: almost unmatched in his brilliance. However, as a columnist he was poor. His writing always centred on why his ideas about cars were right (that they should be light) and that his most brilliant road car (the McLaren F1: the one Rowan Atkinson had an accident in; it is notoriously difficult to drive) was better than the Bugatti Veryon. The magazine was for a specialist car enthusiast audience but Murray’s column was still unremittingly predictable, rather self referential and very dull. Yet due to Murray’s status in the world of fast cars it was difficult to criticise him. Eventually the magazine editors’ seem to have understood and he went on a sabbatical from writing which has continued for many years.

    Lynch is much the same. She is self referential, unstructured and dull. The Impartial has always seemed blind to her obvious flaws and had shown no sign of ditching her for a republican who could actually write. Now, however, as Bugsy said, the problem is that removing her will be even more difficult for the Impartial following Tom et al.’s intervention.

  • Neil

    Is it Tommo’s intention then to start emailing the newspapers of NI (try the Ballymena Guardian if you want to see a really dull paper – I’m sure there are dozens more), and insist on the removal of anyone who’s journalism is not up to scratch (in Tommo’s opinion)?

    Are we to believe that it’s just his taste in writing style that caused him to comment, and that this journalist being a fenian had nothing to do with it? Lol,

    That said again I come back to question Tommo’s wisdom. First he demonstrates that he can huff and puff all he likes, but he’ll get slapped down as an insignificant irritation and has no influence whatsoever. Second he’s propelled an unknown and allegedly talentless journalist into the limelight and more or less gauranteed her continued employment. Massive, utter, total fail.

    And I still think he views all Catholics as scum, or particularly the significant proportion of us who vote for SF.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Neil….”us” ?

  • This demonstrates that Elliot is more of a parochial councillor sort of politician than the leader of a once great political party.
    When will they ever learn…..?

  • Neil

    Yes Us. The significant group of people who vote SF, a group of which I am a part.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Neil – that group you’re identifying as catholics.

  • Neil

    Correct? I’m confused as to where the issue lies. I am a Catholic, a significant proportion of Catholics vote SF. I believe Tommos views Catholics, or the significant proportion of us (i.e. myself and other Catholics) who vote SF.

    Not saying exclusively Catholic people vote SF. Just lumping myself in with the significant proportion of other Catholics who also vote for SF.

  • Bugsy

    “Are we to believe that it’s just his taste in writing style that caused him to comment, and that this journalist being a fenian had nothing to do with it? Lol,”

    Really???? Tom Elliott is on a crusade to get every Catholic newspaper journalist/columnist the sack? Silly comments like that does nothing for your argument.

    Tom Elliott made it very clear in his letter to the Impartial that his issue was Mary Lynch’s continuing glorification of the IRA in her column. I can’t remember him mentioning the poor quality of the writing.

  • michael-mcivor

    Tom Lie a lot and the dis-order have not got the wit to argue against any Journalist- so they huff- and in a recession they ask for a news-paper worker to be fired-

  • tacapall

    Ex UDR and orangeman man calls for censorship of sister of ex IRA man on the grounds that her writing is is not helpful to broader society – Classic.

  • ranger1640

    followed that link to youtube, all i see is a typical politician, wont answer a question he doesnt want to. same as the sdlp are doing at the minute being asked about an election? same as the DUP, same as the tories, same as the Labourites. typical politician.

  • Master McGrath

    Looking at this as someone who has never read any of the articles published I am struck by the amazingly stupid way Tom Elliot has gone abut this whole thing.
    The fact is that the paper has the RIGHT to employ just whomsoever the editor wants to put in place.
    The real way to deal with it is not to get hung up on the sectarian ‘catch points’ that this appointment carries with it but to remind people that if they feel offended enough by what is written they should desist from buying the paper.
    All this current huffing and puffing simply gets people who would not normally buy the paper to do so – just to support the columnist, whom they probably never heard of and would not normally read or remember.
    Tom Elliot may be a very nice guy BUT he is not really a thinking or strategic politician as the way he has involved himself in this clearly reveals.
    A pity for Unionism and by default one up to the Shimmers.

  • Master McGrath

    My mistake in my last Shinners and not Shimmers was what I meant.

  • lover not a fighter

    Tom Elliot is a comedian without trying !

    If he actually tried then he would’nt be able to do it.

  • Charminator

    Tend to agree with joeCanuck here – truly this episode says far more about old Elliot and his judgement (or lack thereof) than anything else. I’m not remotely interested in media censorship – and certainly not when the prospect is raised by a politician from whatever hue – but how the UUP can fathom continuing under his leadership, I’ll never know. I’ve always thought he was a bit of a local dandy, something of the Thomas Burns about him, and this really only confirms this inkling for me.

  • son of sam

    According to Chris,papers with a nationalist slant often have columnists from the Unionist tradition.Would this be the case with the A/town News?I assume parity of esteem is valued in that paper as much as in the Impartial Reporter.

  • ayeYerMa

    No doubt if there were some relative of one of the Shankill butchers who also was a BNP member writing pure propaganda in a newspaper column the same suspects on here would be up in arms. That is what the equivalent is.

    There’s also another writer who’s just as bad as Lynch – an American who has had newspaper opinion columns which are barely coherent and are little more than sheer Republican propaganda – what’s his name again, erm, um, ah yes – it’s “Chris Donnelly”!!!

  • Chris Donnelly

    There’s also another writer who’s just as bad as Lynch – an American who has had newspaper opinion columns which are barely coherent and are little more than sheer Republican propaganda – what’s his name again, erm, um, ah yes – it’s “Chris Donnelly”!!!


    I liked that one- even called the wife in to read it!

  • keano10

    Aye yer Ma,

    Sorry to disappoint you but Chris is a lot more coherent and articulate and articulate than yourself. He also relies on that old fashioned journalistic template of factual evidence , research and visible links. If you watch closely enough you might even learn something…

    In the meantime you can just plough on with all that drivel that you seem to conjur up effortlessly…

  • Nunoftheabove. Depressing times for UUP alright, Elliot is in well over his head. The party may use the cover of the SDLP leadership election in the autumn to quietly dispense with Tom’s er….services, but they should be wary of doing it then as it migfht look like a job lot, as parodied in Yes Prime Minister, [The two Rob Jones confused in the honours list]. When the inevitable UUP election comes up, they’d be well advised to put roadblocks on the way from Fermanagh to avoid repeating the same mistake again.

  • granni trixie

    This thread reminds me that reading Jim Gibney in I. News, 9 times out of 10 makes me mad. And yes, it does cross my mind as to why the paper gives a platform to someone so lacking in insight and who seems incapable of thinking outside the SF box. But then I return to respect for INews for what I imagine are the best of motives. But JG version of events in the Troubles and the assumptions he makes still makes me mad!

  • Mary seems to have experienced greater ‘freedom’ in Fermanagh than in the ‘Free State’. Perhaps she and Tom should sit down together over a cup of tea and have a yarn under the theme, “There’s no place like home”.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Yes they could do with taking a very decisive and irreversible step away from Elliottness (they better stop hoping or indeed pretending that there’s anything, ahem, Untouchable about him….) and leaving their darkness and Victoriana morality shtick behind them. At the moment in a certain light they’re not much more than a slightly more polite and – perhaps – less bitter version of the TUV, in a different light a slightly orangey wishy washy Alliance. Sometimes there’s a fine line between trying to be all things to all (ok, not all – mainly PUL…) people and not being at all sure what or who, at heart, you actually are. Elliott epitomizes their dilemma and this identity crisis. A youngish man with an olde worlde perspective, trying toe-curlingly hard to be a PR smoothie and having all the media finesse of an exhausted farmyard animal – any political opponent’s dream.

    He seems to default to predictable old testament yokel demagogy mode when against the ropes and hasn’t a fresh worthwhile idea to call his own when given the space to articulate it. Elliott’s not a game-changer, he’s a name-caller. The very fact that he looks backwards and descends into silliness, like in this example, illustrates the point adequately. He can’t – or doesn’t want to – see into the future so can only cling to the things of certainty and comfort in his past – flags, abuse and cheap, crass parochialism. It’s change resistance. It’s all he appears to know how to do without causing undue strain on his imagination and assumed cognitive capabilities.

    I’ve said it before and will say it again. Any party which by its own admission is scratching around for ideas on cobbling together a vision and seeking ideas for future direction has by definition ceased to have a substantial reason to exist.

    If someone wants to sink this so-called party they’ve picked the right guy to navigate full tilt towards the icebergs. I for one shan’t mourn its demise anyway, given its shameful history it’ll be a deliverance for us all when it’s gone.

  • Nunoftheabove, having released all that poisonous venom on the humble Slugger commentariat is that a party or a leader in our wee country that you would commend for our delectation? 😉

  • Nunoftheabove


    ….as opposed to the non-poisonous forms of venom, presumably. Hell, I haven’t even started on that dude Elliott yet my little liberal buddy, just you wait ’til I’ve dispensed with the lunchtime wines and spirits and I can really get my trousers off. Best all round if you step back into the relative safety of the Corrymeela nuke shelter, could get kinda nasty around these parts once the cowshit starts ricochetting all around Sluggville.

    Nah, I shan’t go there name-wise, tempting as it….isn’t really. Not sober, anyway. I figure that Thomas Jefferson had it about right though when he suggested that “Commerce with all nations, alliance with Nun, should be our motto”. Leastways, that’s what the Mother Inferior told me he’d said.

    Your logic ?

  • Perhaps you could rebrand yourself BlueNunoftheabove 😉 Come on now, give us the low down on the party and leader you think are the bees’ knees here!

  • Nunoftheabove


    Well perhaps so but at least you can’t say it’s Nun-alcoholic mon brave. “Prohibition may be a disputed theory, but Nun can say that it doesn’t hold water”.

    As oul’ lamented Joe Heller once put it, “Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them”. In Stormont, on the other hand, we have well populated sub-categories – men who aspire to mediocrity and men who can scarecly contain their glee at having their aspirations towards mediocrity serially confirmed.

  • Turgon and Bugsy are both correct when they suggest that Mary Lynch is not a quality writer.

    However, that has nothing to do with the call by the Orange Order for her removal as a columnist. On the contrary, it has everything to do with witless ‘shinnerphobia.’

    Three years ago, Jeffrey Peel remarked that the Orange Order was a “backward looking parish pump society.” The leaders of that organisation have repeatedly proved him to be correct.

  • How they are related:

    Seymour Major: “Three years ago, Jeffrey Peel remarked that the Orange Order was a ‘backward looking parish pump society’. The leaders of that organisation have repeatedly proved him to be correct.”

    Jeff Peel: “The excuse for the U-turn is that because of the delay in reaching an agreement with CCHQ it would be impossible to get ready for elections that are still several months away. But that’s nonsense – as has been pointed out by Seymour Major over on his blog.”

  • I’m an Orangeman, I’m from County Londonderry.

    This is a matter concerning County Fermanagh… so what is it all entitled “orangemen” as if because someone in Fermanagh opposes something every single orangeman on earth opposes it too.

    As for Jeff Peel… 3 years ago he whinged on about the Orange Order. 3 years later and he’s still whinging.

  • antamadan

    Jeez, surely if one republican -crap or brilliant- article is in the Newsletter, one of the other unionist journalists could write a rebuttal the following week,leading to more intelligent argument leading to an interesting paper.)

    This is a concept papers in the U.S. and ROI (Irish Times/Sunday Independent) use all the time. Everyone loves an honest argument about ideas, right Newsletter fans………… Hey where are you going?

  • Skinner

    I think the problem here is that the Impartial Reporter readers are not really used to opinion pieces. The Impartial has only started doing them fairly recently. So when Mary Lynch writes her misty-eyed drivel about the evil Brits it comes as a shock because it looks to the readers that the Impartial somehow supports this view. And in a way it does, in terms of supporting the right for the view to be aired, rather than necessarily agreeing with it.

    I like to read the opinions of people I am likely to disagree with. I think the pleasure is in a mixture of exploding in self-righteousness rage but at the same time challenging and refining the logic of your view. Sometimes you find there are bits you agree with and you find a sense of re-assurance that we are not a completely different species after all.

    The problem with Mary Lynch’s writing is that it is excruciating to read. There is little of substance. It is watery sentiment spilt over the page and it is impossible to define and grapple with. All you are left with is the feeling that this woman has some airey-fairy idealistic notions that are flawed for having no basis in the reality of what happened in Fermanagh in the last 40 years. Sometimes if you’re lucky you get wee a poem that may at one time have been stuck to the P7 classroom wall under “Our Creative Writing”. Her column demeans the paper not for the content but for the quality.

    Denzil McDaniel is got it right in terms of facing down Tom Elliot but he has got it terribly wrong in allowing Mary Lynch’s dream-splatter to stay in the pages for so long.

  • Turgon

    I agree entirely. In terms of Lynch’s writing: I have largely stopped reading it but when I do it is actually very difficult to read. She flits from one concept and one time to another seemingly at random. Some of the best writers can do this but it is extremely difficult and not really possible in the context of an article.

    Her work reminds me of a written version of a film with flash backs. The problem is that the medium (writing a column) does not easily lend itself to this form of writing.

    The only way to do this taking up, leaving down of subjects is to tie an article together at the end: it can be made to work but requires a very good structure. An example of someone who manages it fairly frequently is Jeremy Clarkson but he uses the device in self deprecating humour. Lyuch has never to my memory used the device in such a fashion nor has she the structure to attempt it in humour or elsewhere.

    Also as I said before Lynch is extremely self referential. Most people who write about themselves laugh at themselves at least a bit: sometimes even in the most grim of circumstances. Lynch does not do this: she takes herself way too seriously.

    My suspicion is that McDaniel is too nice a bloke to tell Lynch that her stuff is drivel and stop printing it. Also many of those complaining may feel that criticising style and competence as a writer is difficult as they have never written much in such a context and as such their view that she writes drivel is somehow invalid.

    It is slightly worrying that Lynch is writing a book: I hope someone is not going to be out a fortune funding a print run which may sell remarkably few copies.

  • Skinner

    I understood she had already written and published a book. I think it says something to that effect at the top of her column, though I might be wrong – my subscription has expired and I am reluctant to re-new it. The overall quality of the paper has dipped alarmingly. Not just typos now but whole unfinished sentences. The other week they had a tabloid-esque article that started off saying 50 people were struck down with illness, when in fact there was just a bad smell making one or two caravanners feel a bit queasy. Shame that they are stooping.