Sunday 24 September 2017

'White nigger' denial poses a real dilemma

Ronan Fanning

The notion that an ambassador would lie to his own people simply beggars belief, says Ronan Fanning

THE denial by Major Thomas B McDowell, then the chief executive of the Irish Times, that he described Mr Douglas Gageby, the then editor, as "a renegade or white nigger", in a conversation with the then British Ambassador, Sir Andrew Gilchrist, in Dublin in October 1969 poses a dilemma for historians.

The description occurs in a "Secret & Personal" letter from Andrew Gilchrist to Kelvin White, then the head of the Irish desk at the Foreign Office: "McDowall [sic] is one of the five (Protestant) owners of the Irish Times, and he and his associates are increasingly concerned about the line the paper is taking under its present (Protestant, Belfast-born) Editor, Gageby, whom he described as a very fine journalist, an excellent man, but on Northern questions a renegade or white nigger."

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