Friday, March 29, 2013

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Ed Moloney: "NUJ Should Put Morris And Barnes In The Dock"

Tonight The Pensive Quill carries a statement from Ed Moloney, from his Broken Elbow blog.

NUJ Should Put Morris And Barnes In The Dock
Ed Moloney
The Broken Elbow
March 28, 2013

I have the following statement to make in reference to the NUJ’s decision to suspend Anthony McIntyre from union membership for six months on foot of a complaint lodged by Allison Morris of The Irish News and Ciaran Barnes of The Sunday Life that he had allegedly breached ethics.

The wrong person was brought up in front of the NUJ’s ethics council in relation to this matter. Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes are the people who have breached the NUJ’s code of conduct and it is they who should be suspended, not Anthony McIntyre.

The following facts in relation to the origins of the PSNI subpoenas issued against the Belfast Project archive at Boston College are, I believe, beyond dispute:

1. When Allison Morris interviewed the late Dolours Price in February 2010, Dolours was undergoing psychiatric care at St Patrick’s hospital Dublin. When her family learned that the interview was underway they asked Morris to end the interview because of her illness but this request was refused;

2. Following subsequent conversations between Dolours Price’s family and the management of the Irish News, agreement was reached on the manner in which the story would be treated in the paper’s coverage. No direct quotes were used, restraint would be exercised in relation to what she had alleged in the interview and Dolours Price would agree to take her story to the ICLVR, the so-called ‘disappeared’ commission. The Irish News evidently accepted the family’s view that in Dolours’ mental state caution should be exercised in how the story was treated;

3. The Irish News complied with that agreement but Allison Morris breached it. She took her tapes/story to her friend and former Andersonstown News colleague Ciaran Barnes in The Sunday Life and three days later he published an unrestrained account based, I firmly believe, on Allison Morris’ taped interview with Dolours Price. The Irish News abided by the agreement with her family but their reporter did not. If that is not a breach of ethics I do not know what is;

4. In the course of his story Barnes suggested that he had listened to Dolours Price’s taped interview with Boston College and in it she had admitted helping to ‘disappear’ Jean McConville. The US Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, specifically cited this claim from Barnes in court papers as justification for issuing the subpoenas against Boston College. There is no doubt in my mind that the behaviour of Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes led directly to the legal action instituted by the PSNI in Belfast and the Department of Justice in America;

5. The proof that Ciaran Barnes could not have listened to the taped interview that Dolours Price gave to Boston College lies in the fact, to which I have attested in an affidavit, that she never once mentioned the Jean McConville case nor her alleged part in that woman’s disappearance in her interview with Anthony McIntyre. The effect of his claim was to disguise the fact that his source was Allison Morris and that she had breached the agreement her editor made with the Price family;

6. It therefore follows that Barnes’ source had to be Allison Morris, the only other person who had talked to Dolours Price in the run up to his article. It is surely no coincidence that his story appeared three days after Allison Morris’ story appeared in The Irish News, and that he and Allison Morris are friends and former colleagues.

I too am a member of the NUJ although I now live and work in the United States. In 1999 I was made an honorary life-time member of the union, an award I was honoured to accept. I have to say however that I am dismayed at this decision by the ethics council and more so by the manner in which it was reached. The wrong people were charged with a breach of ethics and I now call on the leadership of the NUJ to institute a full inquiry into the behaviour of Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes in relation to the interview of Dolours Price of February 2010 and its aftermath.

I also call on the NUJ to include in this investigation an examination of the relationship between the PSNI and the media in Northern Ireland with specific reference to the differential treatment of journalists in the pursuit of confidential sources.


AM said...

A very strong post by Ed Moloney putting out in the public domain everything the Irish News did not want in the public domain. Will the Irish News seek to censor this? Will the editor send me any ultimatums? Will it make any difference if he does?

Not in the slightest.

larry hughes said...

I have suspected for some time that journalists and 'spooks' are far too often one and the same thing.

It's good to get a clear picture of what went on. Pretty low. Ethics? You're avin a larf...init!

sean bres said...

Yeah Larry sure when you think about the crap that's been posted in the Sunday World lately it tells you all about the relationship between the spooks, some of the journalism here and a certain political party. Who's interest is being served is something we should always consider when analysing any situation.

Anthony, just to let you know I'm sorry fit your troubles but keep the chin up and don't let the bastards grind you down

larry hughes said...

Sean Bres

Inever buy a newspaper these days and rarely watch more than the news headlines. It's all like thew piss-process, choriographed.

itsjustmacker said...

That a great post from Ed, and , straight to the point.


Any normal thinking person can see the interactive relationship between Morris and Barnes. Ed is right, the wrong person was in front of that committee, it should have been the two who made the allegation in the first place.

I would be curious to see if they both complain about "ED" now, or, demand that you remove his post.

I think not. They know they have done wrong. Now they should both pay for it, and , you should be reinstated forthwith.

Aine said...

This is some bullshit...... a lame attempt however by 'them' to steal the narrative,

ethics and mainstream journalism is almost an oxymoron these days ......dirty business indeed!

Mackers i'm not going to say keep your head up because I know you have no problem in doing so.....but this crap just adds on to the ton or so you have laying around at the minute and for that i am sorry !!!

AM said...


there is a serious ethical question regarding the behaviour of Allison Morris, Ciaran Barnes and the Irish News. All three might answer that question satisfactorily and if they do we must reassess our view of them and reconsider our own behaviour. But up until this point I do not believe they have answered in a manner that has been satisfactory.

They sought to censor and smother the question rather than answer it. They went to the Ethics Council and while we cannot hold them responsible for the bungling incompetence and sheer dishonesty that plagued the Ethics Council, the Ethics Council only got its verdict through by lying. Neither Barnes, Morris or the Irish News had any hand in that. Barnes/Morris turned up on the day and made their case. Independently of them and without input from them the Ethics Council lied. This is the issue.

It prevented me from having legal representation on the undertaking given by it to my lawyer that the meeting was not a disciplinary one but one to try and find resolution. And as it was not disciplinary hearing there could at that stage be no sanction emerging from it. It was a denial of natural justice.

Now say the Ethics Council had behaved ethically and reached the same verdict anyway, then that would present a problem of a different sort. But it at least has to get to that point without deliberately misleading.

I rarely buy a paper myself these days although not because Peter Robinson has told us to boycott the Irish News! As much as I have problems with the paper his call is a bid to smother a line of legitimate questioning. Ironically, the same thing that the Irish news is trying to do with me. Funny old world.

AM said...


I know I am right on this. Were I wrong I would step back and apologise. We don't get into these battles against powerful bodies because we think it is the wrong thing to do. There are legitimate questions that have been asked of our opponents and the response has been to try and shut that line of questioning down.

People reading Ed's statement combined with the Wiki-dump we put out are quickly coming to the conclusion that the role of the other side looks far from how it presented it. People instinctively sense they are being sold a pup in that narrative.

I am up for the discussion. I will not be calling for the censoring of the Irish News or the two reporters.

But they can muster all the power of the institution and threaten every action under the sun. I will continue to facilitate the asking of legitimate questions and there is nothing they can do to stop me. I don't care what they think, what they write, what they threaten, what sanction they employ. I don't care about the toffs of the Ethics Council.

Even if they got me jailed they cannot stop me writing on blogs and asking those questions. How the powerful hate the democratic service provided by the internet. And I am going to avail of it come what may. And other than persuade me that I am wrong there is not a thing they can do to stop me.

AM said...

Sean Bres,

Thanks. I will not be grinded down by these people. It is a game of 90 minutes and we have only played the first 5.


let them try to demand the removal of Ed's post. Let the Ethics Council stand like King Canute and command the post to move back. What will it achieve? Enhanced awareness of its own impotence in the face of someone who will not back down.

Great Ethics Council, you are the monarch of all ... Nothing in this world dares to disobey you.

Let's see about that.

AM said...

As a matter of interest this is what I have been suspended from. Seems more like a six month release to me. As the inimitable Catherine Tate might say am I bothered?

sean bres said...

Anthony you're spot on here, the problem is a controlled media is something powerful interests have always sought because it is easy to exploit and if you can control what information people receive you can shape their social/political consciousness. It's hard to believe NUJ would contemplate pursuing surrendering even more of its limited independence given this.

A lot of the time the media is simply a cover story for lies. A ready example is the disgraceful treatment of Carmen Proetta after the shootings in Gibraltar. Even the Omagh bombing, the police cover-story was out right away claiming "the terrorists deliberately misled our Officers to the whereabouts of the bomb to maximise civilian casualties". The RUC released this information to a willing press at the get-go despite it being shown years later as a pack of lies during the inquest. Ever since it has been the standard definition of what happened because the first story is the one that sets the tone and sticks in the mind. Despite the RUC admitting in the course of the inquest to having received information that the bomb was "300 yards down the town from the Court House", right where it exploded at ten past three that terrible afternoon and in complete contradiction of the official narrative, the initial story, although proven now to be totally false, is still widely believed in most quarters. And the 'independent' press has never made any real effort to investigate.

Because what passes for an 'independent' press for the most part has an unofficial set of rules, to paraphrase an oxymoron from our own little part of the world there is 'an acceptable level of journalism'.

And thus they would prefer if genuinely independent journalists like yourself, who are prepared to tell the hard story, be silenced. Because you are a threat to the status quo and to the normalisation agenda the British establishment and it's quisling allies now pursue here with renewed vigour. So I'm glad to hear you say they won't grind you down but of course I already knew that. If only we could they must think to themselves.

Keep challenging and confronting and dissenting and speaking the truth Anthony because without people like yourself, without trying to blow smoke up your ass, the rest of us are a whole lot worse off

frankie said...

Anthony, getting banned from the NUJ for 6mths means what to your daily life?

(I was wrong it wasn't an early Aprils fool, but at least my reasoning was sound. Unlike the NUJ's)

menace said...

So, once more we see an Irishman unable to freely express his opinion and permit others to (through his work on the BCP.
The west brit Irish News, and their west brit reporters must be well pleased with the result, I doubt you'll be loosing much sleep AM.
Go n'araigh an tad leat.

Organized Rage said...


A powerful and welcomed post from Ed Moloney. I understand your contempt for the NUJ's behaviour, but I am pleased to see you are appealing as you do not need me to tell you there are important issues at stake and trade union bureaucrats and pliable fools do not a union make, that is down to the membership alone.

Sadly trade union bureaucrats tend to behave like, well bureaucrats, but I know from my own experience, when ones in the firing line it often still comes as a shock, especially when they tell such blatant lies.

I always took it as read that journalist do not sue journalists, but in this case some folk could not wait to reach out for the law, if we can call it that and keep a straight face.

all the best

AM said...


like a log!

AM said...



AM said...


Thanks a lot.

Quite a few people have said to me about how powerful Ed’s post was. It has certainly made more people aware of the legitimate questions that need asked but which the Irish News wants smothered. Which defeats the censorious action of the Irish News to begin with.

Had the articles that the Irish News objected to alleged or suggested that Ciaran Barnes killed cats and that Alison Morris was a drug dealer they would never have seen the light of day on my blog. But they did no such thing. They asked, one in a direct way, the other through satire, questions about the role of Barnes/Morris in the events that led to the Boston College issue. Now it may well be that there is no causal link and the legitimate questions can be met head on with legitimate answers, which are what ultimately wins the day. But those answers were never forthcoming. Instead we had a situation in which the Irish News sought to suffocate any discussion. And the fact that we are still here discussing it is evidence of the failure of that attempt.

I am a paid up member of the NUJ. Why should I – who like most people am financially squeezed by austerity and recession - pay so that Sarah ‘oh it’s a typo’ Kavanagh can practice incompetence? Or finance the junket chasers that sat in on the hearing that was not a hearing?

I am appealing not because being in the NUJ much matters anymore given its stance on Leveson, but because I was denied any natural justice. The Ethics Council lied to me and my lawyer as a pretext for denying my lawyer access.

I have long known that the Ethics Council was not primarily guided by ethics. I have known that since the Nick Martin Clarke affair. But I think it is important to have an Ethics Council otherwise the forces that want political regulation of the media will always have the upper hand. But we must have an Ethics Council that behaves ethically. What was ethical about lying to myself and my lawyer?

The NUJ should never permit the union to become a cover up mechanism that shields its own from public scrutiny. It must protect journalists and journalism from unwarranted intrusion and it must protect free inquiry. But it should not become something like the Hillsborough police, concerned primarily with protecting its own regardless of any wrongdoing they might have engaged in.

I do not agree with journalists suing journalists. To me it is an obnoxious practice. There are enough attempts to curb journalism without that added on. Although neither journalist in this case sued (I would not have given them one red cent anyway no matter how many court orders piled up in the corner of whatever prison cell they threw me into) and they opted to use the Ethics Council. But this could easily have been addressed without the Council. As you can see from the wiki-dump all the informal approaches made through the NUJ led to the concerns being addressed. I was not found wanting. But as I told the Ethics Council, whereas I would be more than prepared to listen to Barnes/Morris, I was never going to bend the knee to a newspaper editor even if it was one like Noel Doran at the Irish News whom I happen to personally like. It is never the personalities involved here, it is always a clash of perspectives.

AM said...

Its Ethics Council Day

April foools!

marty said...

I think Ed,s post should be held like a sword of Damocles be over those in the NUJ who have made this most ridiculous of decisions,I think once again journalism or those who "represent" it has again slipped even further into the gutter.

AM said...

An Ethics Council event?