The Irish Times And Billy McKee

I notice that The Irish Times’ report on the death of Provisional IRA founder Billy McKee, who passed away at his West Belfast home today (Wednesday) was supplied by the Press Association (PA) and not by one of the paper’s own journalists, much less any of its Northern staff (assuming they, he or she still exist).

Is this The Irish Times’ way of saying ‘we do not wish to soil our hands by asking one of our own to compose a story about such an awful person’ – an attitude that too often characterised the paper when I worked there – or is it just a reflection a) of a general staff shortage/financial hardship in the paper, or b) a manifestation of the  reality is that there really is no-one on the staff knowledgeable enough to write more than half a sentence about the man?

Bill McKee – a founder member of the Provisional IRA who died today

Whether or not you regard Billy McKee as an antedeluvian Catholic reactionary or an Irish freedom fighter in the tradition of Dan Breen, there is no getting away from the fact that he was an enormously significant figure in the early phase of one of the most traumatic and impactful periods ever in Irish history. And that Ireland’s paper of record should reflect that by at least assigning one of its own reporters to cover his demise.

2 responses to “The Irish Times And Billy McKee

  1. McKee was indeed a reactionary old fart who spent as much time chewing at the alter of his local church as he did in refusing to question any of the actions of the Provos, Bloody Friday included. A measure of the man is that he sent a letter of support to Saoradh.

    However, history is not always pretty, and like you say Ed, he was significant figure, in Ireland’s bloody past.

  2. He leaves a mixed legacy on all fronts. While there are people I know who will be eternally grateful to the likes of him, Brendan Hughes etc for helping to defend the Falls from the loyalist mobs in August 1969, his willingness to feud with the Officials, (alleged) tolerance of sectarian killings like Kingsmill and his part in the 1975 truce mean that he helped severely weaken his own organisation.

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