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February - May

"Only the the loud voice of the Irish Republic and world opinion can bring them [the British government] to their senses and only a hunger strike, where lives are laid down as proof of the strength of our political convictions, can rally such opinion, and present the British with the problem that far from criminalising the cause of Ireland their intransigence is actually bringing popular attention to that cause."
     IRA Blanketmen statement
     Irish People, 14 March 1981, 1

"The magazine section of The New York Times of Sunday, March 1st contained an article on terrorism. Its basic theme was that there is an international network of terrorist organizations supported and trained directly or indirectly by the Soviet Union for 'the destabilization of Western democratic society.' One organization singled out for particular attention was the 'Provisional' Irish Republican Army. References to the situation in Ireland were clearly designed for anti-Irish propaganda in America: the errors and untruths would be too obvious to Irish readers. Throughout the article there was a deliberate effort to assign to the anti-Marxist Provisional IRA the views and activities of the pro-Marxist 'Officials.'"
      "Oisín"
       Irish People, 14 March 1981, 6

"Since the start of Sands' self-starvation, The New York Times and The Washington Post have explained Sands' imprisonment only in terms of convictions for 'illegal possession of guns.' That may be technically accurate; it is not informative. Although it taints the melodrama, it is well to remember that Sands is a terrorist."
      "Broken Window-Pane Politics," George F. Will
       Washington Post, 30 April 1981, A-35-1-P

"The mini-invasion of foreign journalists attracted by the threat of bloody rioting came in for stern criticism by the Protestant minister who buried Gary Martin, a police constable killed by a bomb planted in a booby-trapped truck Monday… 'The world's press,' said Rev. Donald Watts, '…may be fascinated for a time by those able to manipulate it for their own ends and by those who fly in and out of the province to make easy, facile statements.'"
      "Sands' hunger strike and the fate of Ulster"
       Boston Globe, 1 May 1981, 9


AIA Dig. ID 0034PL03

 

"The primary aim of the fast is not simply political status, but the international publicity."
      Washington Post, 3 May 1981, 2-3

"I'm a bit cynical about the international press. It only comes here when there is a smell of blood, not when the patient work is being done. All this international attention gives the Provos [outlawed Provisional Irish Republican Army members] a big lift. People get on bandwagons."
      John Hume, Social Democratic and Labor Party
      Washington Post, 4 May 1981, A-23-1

"If over the next few weeks or months there are acts of terrorism against British officials in America, a deal of responsibility will rest with the disgraceful and unbalanced coverage the U.S. media - especially TV - have given to the death of Bobby Sands. In all the outpouring of indignation and emotion, the American media have given nearly exclusive coverage to pro- I.R.A. spokesmen. Not a word has been heard from the many moderate critics of the I.R.A. The Rev. Ian Paisley, the Ulster extremist who is an apologist for Ulster vigilantism and the terrorism of the other side, has been portrayed as somehow representative of critics of the I.R.A. This grotesque picture is sheer I.R.A. propaganda."
      Peter Samuel, Letter to the Editor
      New York Times, 7 May 1981, 34

"Saying 'I stick by my story,' a New York Daily News columnist resigned Friday after the British army in Northern Ireland charged that an article he wrote about the riots after the death of Bobby Sands was a 'complete fabrication.'

Michael Daly, 29, had come under attack earlier in the day when the London Daily Mail charged that his story was 'a pack of lies.'…

The Mail said Daly's article from Belfast was 'a malevolent piece of lying propaganda.' It accused the United States news media in general and the Daily News in particular of 'spearheading a campaign to persuade American politicians to take an increasingly anti-British line….'"
     Chicago Tribune, 9 May 1981, W1-4-2

"…a chorus of our politicians and prelates implored British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to legitimize Sands, who finally killed himself by starvation, and his murderous friends as 'political prisoners.' ... Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York begged Thatcher to give special treatment to Sands and his army of Lee Harvey Oswalds.

When you can get a cardinal to hedge on murder, you have wrought a propaganda triumph.

The IRA has done it. They have snookered not only the cardinal [Terence Cooke of New York] and much of the American news media, but nearly all Irish-American Catholics into backing their ostensible cause of 'Brits out for a reunited Ireland.'...It is an organization with no enemies on the Left.

The upshot is most IRA true believers in America have been had. They're too terrified to set a shoe in Ulster, or to look at the other side of the coin. They swallow IRA propaganda as if it were taffy. The Irish war will fade in direct proportion to the Irish-American's willingness to challenge the IRA's line, to hear the British side, and to realize, one hopes, what the IRA is: less than 500 Oswald-Hinckley freaks, supplied with Soviet bloc weapons, intent on turning both Irelands into an Allende-type Chile. There isn't a patriot among them."
      "IRA brutalities, Terrorist propaganda triumphs" by Edward Langley
       Chicago Tribune, 9 May 1981, W1-8-4

"Authorities have complained that some foreign television crews and photographers have encouraged rioters by offering money, candy or just the inducement of having one's picture recorded sending a rock or a firebomb in the direction of a soldier, policeman or armored car."
      "A Soldier's lament in Belfast"    
       Boston Globe, 13 May 1981, 16

"I don't think they are being willfully obscurantist about Northern Ireland. When they deal with Ireland, certain stereotypes come into play. It's hard to break through them: the stereotype of the British as being unquestionably fair, the image of the British as 'the honest bobby' who's doing his best to keep the two savage, anachronistic groups in Northern Ireland apart…

And then you have, on the other side of that, the image of the irrational Irish: colorful, a bit rustic, unpredictable. That stereotype, too, tends to restrict coverage."
       Jack Holland, journalist, when asked what he thought of the American media's
       coverage of the Troubles
      "Seeing Both Orange and Green," by Colman McCarthy
       Washington Post, 23 May 1981, A15

"I remember when I first heard of the Hunger Strike and the Blanket Prisoners in Northern Ireland. I didn't fully understand what the whole thing was about. One reason for that was because the news media had so little coverage of the whole situation in the Maze Prison and on Northern Ireland. It wasn't until Bobby Sands was elected to British Parliament while starving himself to death in prison, the news media took notice, and I finally began to absorb what was actually happening, I realized that he must be committed to a real cause…

I commend the certain members of the American news media who are finally sending reporters into the north of Ireland and giving full accounts of the conditions there, and not just reports from the British News Agency. It took Bobby Sands' death to bring this about. Of course, there are still papers and TV stations who still report one-sided news in favor of Britain. The IRA was painted as an underground terrorist organization who wanted only to kill innocent people. In this day and age when we can broadcast from outer space, why are we so ignorant of the history and background of why the IRA is still fighting?"
      "Stand Up and Be Counted," Readers Forum
       Irish People, 30 May 1981, 5

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