UPDATED 2:34 pm EDT
The sun rises each morning and sets each evening and with the same certainty whenever Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is in trouble Guardian columnist Roy Greenslade can be relied upon to come riding to the rescue.
So has it been in the wake of the Mairia Cahill scandal. Today, Guardian readers, or at least those of them able to navigate that paper’s new impenetrable website, woke up to see another Greenslade apologia for Sinn Fein featured in the paper’s Comment section entitled ‘BBC programme on IRA rape allegations flawed by lack of political balance’.
The thrust of his complaint was that because the BBC Spotlight programme on the Mairia Cahill affair had failed to mention that she had briefly been a member of the republican dissident group RNU (membership fifteen plus the chairman’s dog) all her allegations re her rape, the cover-up and her interaction with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Translated this means the following: only people who are signed up supporters of the peace process and Sinn Fein’s role in it are entitled to criticise/scrutinise either Gerry Adams or Sinn Fein and/or to allege that their rape a) happened, b) was covered up by SF and the IRA and c) the leader of that party insinuated that the victim enjoyed the experience.
And since supporters of Sinn Fein and the peace process are unlikely to think, never mind utter such unkind thoughts everyone should keep their mouths shut. Therefore by definition anyone who does speak out must be an enemy of peace and the process which brought it about, i.e. Sinn Fein’s part in it and should be ignored.
The resulting silence in the media, the absence of any probe into Sinn Fein and the IRA’s more seedy secrets, especially in the past, is exactly what the Provos and people like Roy Greenslade want. The cudgel”enemy of the peace process” has been used in an effort to silence journalism about a party and political leadership that is in government in one part of Ireland and may soon be in the other part.
A political party with a controversial past, that has allegations against it that might make Richard Nixon blush, that is on the cusp of real power in the South (as opposed to the Lilliputian state North of the Border) is exactly the sort of party that should be scrutinised by the media.
Ask an awkward question of Sinn Fein or the IRA, highlight an unfortunate fact or unearth an embarrassing secret from the past and the reporter who does that immediately gets accused of being “an enemy of peace” and the effect at the least is to intimidate others into silence. That is what Roy Greenslade is doing in his column today.
Doubtless when or if Gerry Adams becomes Tanaiste in Dublin the same weapon will be used to gag anyone in the media brave or foolish enough to question the new coalition government’s policies, especially the U-turns it will doubtless perform.
But coming back to Roy Greenslade. He complains about the lack of political balance in the BBC’s reportage of Mairia Cahill. What about his lack of political disclosure? What about the Guardian‘s failure to acknowledge that when their columnist writes eloquent defences of Sinn Fein and its leader he is not exactly neutral, that he has, in fact, a record of association with that organisation every bit as damning as Mairia Cahill’s with RNU.
Back at the time of the Gibraltar shootings in 1988, Greenslade was a regular contributor to the Provo paper An Phoblacht-Republican News. How do we know that? Well his now Guardian colleague Nick Davies disclosed this nugget in a book called Flat Earth News. According to Davies, Greenslade was managing editor (news) at the Sunday Times at the time but in his spare time and unknown to his editor at the Times, contributed to AP-RN under the pseudonym George King.
Nowadays Greenslade is a professor of journalism at the City University of London. I wonder if any of his lectures cover the subject of the ethical conflict caused when a journalist misleads his employer and his regular readers by penning articles in a political journal under a false by-line?
The links don’t end there. In March 2012, the Independent‘s Stephen Glover put Greenslade’s Provo associations under a microscope and came up with this:
The connections endure. Last June (2011), Mr Greenslade spoke at a Sinn Fein conference in London on the 30th anniversary of the hunger strikes, and he wrote an article on the same subject for An Phoblacht . He has had a house in County Donegal for many years. One friend is Pat Doherty, from 1988 until 2009 vice president of Sinn Fein, who has been named as a former member of the IRA Army Council.
In fact Pat Doherty was for many years the IRA’s Director of Intelligence and Brendan Hughes, who spoke about this for his Boston College interviews was his deputy.
And there was more to come. When convicted IRA member John Downey walked free from a court in London earlier this year after charges of carrying out the Hyde Park bombing had been dropped because of promises made under the ‘On The Run’ scheme, it was revealed that Greenslade had put up surety for Downey’s bail.
In explanation he told the Irish Post in Britain:
“I do not believe in neutrality,” the professor said. “All of my lectures stress that claims towards neutrality and impartiality and objectivity are bogus.”
And while he now tells his students about his republican views, he admitted that “for a long period, during the war, I was not transparent”.
And this is the guy who dares criticise the BBC for lack of balance!?
It is about time that the Guardian faced up to its Roy Greenslade problem and brought transparency to his columns. The fact is that when it comes to Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams or anything to do with the Troubles or peace in Northern Ireland this guy has a dog in the fight which he never tells his readers about.
Isn’t it about time that Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger moved to protect his readers’ interests and insisted that a health warning accompany Greenslade’s articles on Ireland. Something like: This writer is not neutral about Sinn Fein or Gerry Adams, in fact he supports them.
That would do nicely.