Groups demand 'Irish Post' apology over Higgins visit reports

Mon, Mar 5, 2012, 00:00

LEADING IRISH community organisations, including the London Irish Centre, have demanded an apology from the Irish Postover its coverage of last month’s visit to London by President Michael D Higgins.

In its edition last week, the Post, which is edited by Murray Morse, said Mr Higgins had “delivered a huge snub” to Irish people living in Britain by failing to answer “key questions”.

The newspaper was deeply unhappy about the length of time it was offered to interview Mr Higgins, but its coverage has provoked serious complaints from Irish community organisations – many of whom backed last year’s campaign to save the newspaper.

In a letter to the newspaper, Irish Ambassador to London Bobby McDonagh said the reports, which began with a front-page report accusing Mr Higgins of “silence”, had been “misleading and disrespectful”.

Last night, the British Labour Party Irish Society joined in the criticism, saying it was “deeply shocked at the unnecessary and ill-judged hostility” displayed to Mr Higgins and that the ‘Post’ had done a disservice to Irish people living in the UK. “We hope that in future you will take more seriously your responsibilities to your readers and to the wider Irish community, especially given your proud record as a newspaper in touch with the needs, interests and views of the Irish in Britain.”

“It is in the best interests of the Irish Postto rectify this misrepresentation of the President of Ireland with both speed and humility,” said the society.

In another letter, four organisations including the Irish Elderly Advice Network, headed by Council of State member councillor Sally Mulready, and the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas were sharply critical. Saying they had been “shocked and saddened” by the coverage, the four said: “Your attack has caused great offence to us and to the Irish people we help and support on a daily basis.”

The organisations said Mr Higgins has been “a great ambassador for Ireland” . . . We saw a man who clearly holds Irish emigrants – particularly the most vulnerable – deep in his thoughts and actions and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the President for his support.”

They went on: “Your article was utterly misplaced, unrepresentative and potentially damaging to reputations of the entire community here . . . We do not want to be associated with the tone or content of the article and hope you will issue an apology for the unwarranted hostility towards a very good friend of the Irish abroad.”

It was signed by staff working for the Irish Elderly Advice Network, the London Irish Centre, the Irish Catholic Church’s Irish Chaplaincy of Britain and the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas.

The Irish Postwas relaunched last September by Cork-born Elgin Loane after it had been closed by the Cork-based Thomas Crosbie Holdings. His decision to buy the newspaper came after a campaign by staff, which was strongly backed by Irish organisations in Britain and members of the House of Commons. Mr Morse was appointed editor days before Mr Higgins’ visit. The Posthad sought an interview with Mr Higgins but had to share a 12-minute slot with the London-based Irish World.