I hear that Rory Carroll has been made The Guardian’s Irish correspondent, replacing Henry McDonald who is moving to London but is currently battling illness on two fronts. We wish him a speedy recovery.
McDonald’s tenure at the Grauniad has been characterised by regular sniping from elements in the newsroom notorious for their sympathy for Sinn Fein and unhappy that their man in Belfast did not toe the line.
This was a tradition begun by the paper’s late deputy editor and Gerry Adams’ devotee, Georgina Henry (partner of playwright Ronan Bennett) and continued by luminaries such as Roy Greenslade, who once penned articles under the pseudonym ‘George King’ – King George backwards – for the SF/IRA journal An Phoblacht/Republican News.
Greenslade’s penmanship for the Provos was exposed by a Guardian colleague, Nick Davies. It later transpired that Greenslade was a friend of Pat Doherty, a former IRA Director of Intelligence.
He also stood surety for IRA member John Downey, accused of the 1982 bombing of Hyde Park which killed four soldiers.
I am led to believe that there was a more or less incessant campaign by elements in the paper to remove McDonald, especially from those hostile to his less than unctuous attitude towards the Provos.
I must declare an interest in this squabble since The Guardian was the only major newspaper in the British isles not to review my book, ‘A Secret History of the IRA‘. I think I know why.
On the eve of the book’s publication the late Martin McGuinness toured newspaper offices in Britain and Ireland – including my then employer The Sunday Tribune – to label me a dissident sympathiser (trans: ‘If you give this book a good review we’ll label you as well!’). Presumably he got a rapt hearing at the Grauniad.
While it seems that McDonald’s ill health did not provide the pretext for his removal, the Guardian‘s internal announcement made no mention of his health problems nor thanked him for his service.
Rory Carroll be warned.