Monday 22 January 2018

Gene Kerrigan: As a journalist, it isn't in your job description to pick a side

Branded an IRA sympathiser in newly released British state papers, Gene Kerrigan recalls those paranoid times

Gene Kerrigan

Gene Kerrigan

The release of British state papers from 1981 has branded some journalists -- including me -- as IRA "sympathisers" back then. It's unsurprising that embassy diplomat PR Whiteway, drawing up his or her list 30 years ago, should imagine that Ed Moloney, Eamon McCann, Vincent Browne and I were Provo fellow travellers.

What was it I wrote in Magill magazine in 1980 or 1981 that prompted Mr/Ms Whiteway to add me to the list?

On checking the files, I find that in 1980, I wrote nothing about the North. In 1981, I wrote two pieces, both on-the-ground reporting of specific events. First, the atmosphere as the hunger strike lurched towards an end, and Owen Carron was elected as Provo TD to replace the dead Bobby Sands. Second, a report on Ian Paisley's formation, in Newtownards, of a "third force", a masked, semi-military outfit (which never amounted to much).

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