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"There is Difficulty Lower Down Whereby Sometimes Unauthorised Items Appear"

category national | history and heritage | feature author Monday April 19, 2004 01:08author by Captain White Report this post to the editors

“The correspondence is being destroyed”

Irish Times Chief Executive asks British Government for help in stamping out "unauthorised" material appearing in the paper. "Secret and personal" letter from the British Ambassador details contacts and refers to then Irish Times Editor Douglas Gageby, a Protestant like Major McDowell, as a "renegade white nigger".

Strange things have a habit of appearing on the IMC Ireland newswire late in the evenings and are a sometimes meagre reward for weary unpaid hacks trawling through the daily deletions. This one exceptionally is a stone-cold classic and the image copy of the letter a downright exclusive as far as we can tell. Let us know if somebody else got there first. We now hand you over to 'Captain White'.

For Captain White's full commentary on the letter, a full size cut out and keep version of the letter and a fistful of interesting and provocative letters to the Irish Times Editor on surrounding issues which have remained unpublished just hit the 'feature continues' link below

Update: Jack Lane Slams Irish Times

Update 2: Revealed: Jack Lane's 10 Jan 2003 letter to Geraldine Kennedy

The attached PDF document is a copy of a letter from A.G. Gilchrist, British Ambassador, Dublin, to a Mr W.K.K. White, Western European Department, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London, dated 2 October 1969. It is marked "secret & personal".

The letter relates to contacts between the British Ambassador and the proprietor of the Irish Times, Major Thomas B McDowell, in which the latter is seeking stronger guidance from the British government on how to control news on Britain’s actions and role in the North of Ireland.

The then Editor of the Irish Times, Douglas Gageby, "Protestant, Belfast born", is referred to as "an excellent man but on northern questions a renegade or white nigger".

McDowell is unhappy that “authorised” pro-British material is “left out” and that “unauthorised” material is appearing in the Irish Times.

The Major asks for direct guidance from No 10 Downing Street for "himself and one or two of this friends on the Board".

Major McDowell, served as chief executive of The Irish Times between 1962 and 1997. He retired as chairman of the Irish Times Trust in December 2001, when he was awarded the title of President for Life of the Irish Times Group.

It is surprising that no one demanded that the Major relinquish his title when this letter was released (probably inadvertently) with British state papers. Instead a discreet veil of silence was drawn over the affair in D’Olier Street, where the renegade Protestant white niggers have been gradually replaced by a gaggle of Roman Catholic uncle toms. Needless to say, when the details came out, the morose major was forced to deny its contents. He claimed rather feebly to be building contacts between the Irish and British governments.

However, during the 1970s the Irish Times was brought into line, especially after Gageby’s first retirement in 1974. Though Gageby was brought back in 1977, after the indifferent editorship of Fergus Pyle, a ‘Kulturkampf’ had been engineered by Conor Cruise O’Brien during the 1973-1977 labour Fine Gael Coalition. It set the political ‘culture’ of the Times and of the times along a path of general compliance with a British agenda.

The Anglo-Irish Majors and Captains had had their day and the British relied subsequently on the native parochialism and conservatism of the 26 County RC bourgeoisie to dampen down anti-British feeling. New money merged with old, as the new fat cats on the block set about preserving 26 County society from adequately confronting the instability of the sectarian Six County state. The media (especially the Section 31 censorship ridden RTE) ignored the Birmingham Six and the Maguire Family throughout the 1970s and Irish government representatives in the US mobilised against those campaigning for innocent Irish people in British jails.

The period that started with the framing of Captain James Kelly of the Irish Army by the Irish state, and that saw official government and Garda indifference (or worse!) to British complicity in the 1974 Dublin Monaghan bombings, was defined by the Garda heavy Gang beating and subsequent railroading of the IRSP Three (Nicky Kelly, Brian McNally and Osgur Breatnach) for a mail train robbery, of which they were clearly innocent.

In other words, the kak-handed methods of the Major and his MI5 friends were rendered historically redundant. The major and his editorial board team have meanwhile gutted the journalistic belly of the paper. Long-serving journalists have been let go and coverage of the North has been down graded. Long-winded pro-British and pro-war jingoism provided by Kevin Myers is the order of the day.

As if in apology for ousting their betters the pigs that now occupy the parlour have been snorting their derision at the efforts that went into putting them there in the first place: the fighting for and winning of the independence of their country (or the substantial part of it they now do so well in). Myers writes lyrically of the mass slaughter that sent millions to their deaths in the First World War in an imperialist adventure and derides as a criminal conspiracy the relatively tiny amount of violence that secured for this part of Ireland independence from the British Empire. Any lie that has the faint possibility of undermining the basis of the War of Independence is pounced upon with glee and published with the authority of Ireland’s “newspaper of record”.

It was Connolly who said “Ruling by fooling is a great British art, with great Irish fools to practice on”? Kevin Myers and the Irish Times, please take a bow.

In response to a recent advertising downturn, cost cutting measures have been applied to the journalists, while the upper tiers of management awarded themselves hefty monetary rewards. This has not gone down well on the newsroom floor.

The new editor, Geraldine Kennedy, has pursued the conservative Dublin Four agenda and has been found wanting in printing inaccurate information on the North time and again, mostly at the expense of republicans. She states: “Above all else, we commit ourselves to accuracy. If we fail the test of accuracy, we are failing the most essential test of our profession. We recognise, of course, that journalism in a daily newspaper operates in a deadline-driven environment in which mistakes can, and will, happen. When we get it wrong, we say so.”

Twice in one week an editorial writer (the ‘voice’ of the Irish Times) rushed to blame republicans for either something that unionists paramilitaries had done (nailing a Roman Catholic to a wooden fence) or that was the product of a sectarian papist-hunt (the PSNI arrest of a Roman Catholic civil servant in the offices of David Trimble and Mark Durkan for “spying”). In the case of the former a half-hearted and miserable correction was inserted, but the latter inaccuracy was left untroubled by the miniscule corrections that the Times inserts to draw as little attention as possible to errors, large and small.

The Major can rest assured; he has succeeded in his efforts to get the Irish Times to publish the “authorised” version of events.

Ironically, the British Ambassador’s letter ends “The correspondence is being destroyed”. This part of it is here provided for the edification of the masses.

British Ambassador  secret letter
British Ambassador secret letter

author by . - .publication date Thu Jan 01, 1970 00:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors


author by captain Moonlightpublication date Thu Apr 08, 2004 21:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Where does this document come from - has it been published before?

author by Captain Whitepublication date Thu Apr 08, 2004 21:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Apologise not, fellow captain. It comes from the release of state papers by our friends, the Brits. Normally, they are supposed to check if the knaves and fools exposed and embarrassed by publication are still alive. In this case, it would appear, they may have thought the old duffer dead. They were mistaken.

As far as I know, this is the first time the document has been published in full. It may be an Indymedia exclusive. I await correction on the point. The more that see it the merrier, as far as I am concerned.

author by observerpublication date Thu Apr 08, 2004 21:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Of course anyone who dared or dares to suggest any connection between the Dublin elite and the British state was and is accused of being paranoid. The proof as they say....

author by captain moonlight (in the shadow of captain blacks smile)publication date Thu Apr 08, 2004 22:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Can you help by dropping a line to provide reassurance about publishing something that could be held against us - use contact button.

author by Captain Whitepublication date Thu Apr 08, 2004 22:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fear not Captain, it is kosher - ring the Irish Times newsdesk. They will confirm its authenticity.

author by Captain Whitepublication date Thu Apr 08, 2004 22:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The number is 01 6792022

author by Captain Whitepublication date Thu Apr 08, 2004 23:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The letter was first released into the public domain in 2000 and, as is typical of matters that embarrass the doyens of D'Olier Street, was ignored by the great and the good historians who are supposed to bring matters of importance to our attention upon the release of previously secret state papers.

author by EEEKKpublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 00:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors



author by Basinpublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 01:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There's no real news here, is there? Or is someone taking umbrage at the word "nigger"?

author by Major Majorpublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 02:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A newspaper proprietor asks a foreign government to help exercise control over his newspaper.

His own editor is viewed, on the basis of his religion, as a renegade to his class and traitor to his supposedly British caste.

The inhabitants of the country are seen as inferior natives.

It demonstrates the thought process of those who claim to be part of a superior civilisation - racist and arrogant.

It shows why we got rid of the British Empire.

It shows why the Indians and the Africans did too.

It demonstrates how the Irish Times adopted a pro-British line anyway. Look at the non-reaction to the story – so what, “man bites dog” – that indicates acceptance of an outrageous intrusion into the editorial independence of Ireland’s so-called newspaper of record. The Major is still Life President of the Irish Times and his family still controls it.

The current Editor is too busy trying (unsuccessfully) to fire columnists to notice the significance of what is happening – she is jsimply a narrow provincial PD ideologue anyway.

What more could the British Ambassador want?

author by cynical about mediapublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 03:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

and life goes on much as before

author by Guy Bague - Alcoholics Anonymouspublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 07:24author email guybague at eircom dot netauthor address author phone n/aReport this post to the editors

It wasn't ignored. It was extensively reported on - by the Irish Times.

author by Pamelapublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Your analysis is spot on. In short, crisp language you have identified the relevant issues here - how some sad ingrate can still ask 'is this news?' is beyond me.

author by Captain Whitepublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Irish Times did not cover the story extensively. After the story broke in another newspaper the Times devoted a single article headed

“Major McDowell rejects UK envoy's claim”

It was bylined anonymously (on the reasonable basis that no sensibly paranoid IT journalist would want the penning of such a ‘distasteful’ story held against him/her) by “Irish Times Reporter”

After that: zilch. No further articles or letters (though I know they were submitted) published.

In a recent column (April 3), FF Senator Martin Mansergh invented the rumor that he is a British spy, and then proceeded to write extensively denying the accusation. He devoted a reference to the McDowell incident. According to the latest edition of the Irish Political Review (April 2004), letters have been submitted by those accused by the Senator of introducing this calumny (the “Mansergh is a spy” allegation) to the world.

It will be a severe test of the censorship that now rules on the IT letters page, whether these letters are published. The letter from IPR publisher David Alvey (in the April edition) devotes considerable space to the McDowell incident and derides the suggestion that either he or his co-accused, think the FF senator is in cahoots with the Brits.

It was the mouldy old major who was subverting his own newspaper, according to confidential British intelligence documents. Somehow, I don’t see the mighty major in the same league as George Galloway – a victim of an elaborate intelligence services hoax designed to discredit him. In any case even the brits might have difficulty deliberately putting out the suggestion that contact with their intelligence services is a form of treason.

Their problem, and even more so that of the IT, is that they cannot compute the suggestion that liaison with a foreign power (leaving aside the ludicrous situation of asking a foreign government to take control of your own newspaper) with a view to spreading their propaganda is a form of spying and is, how shall we put it, ok, treason?

I argue above that the major’s moves were misdirected. He had a compliant native elite waiting in the wings to turn the paper around and to extract it from the control of the “renegade white niggers”.

author by Marc Mulhollandpublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:45author email marc.mulholland at stcatz dot ox dot ac dot ukauthor address http://marcmulholland.tripod.com/histor/author phone Report this post to the editors

This news item, including a reproduction of the letter, was carried by 'The Northern Star (Incorporating Workers' Weekly)', published by the group formerly known as BICO, a couple of years ago. It is worth another airing, certainly.

author by Deirdre Clancypublication date Fri Apr 09, 2004 16:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...related to our current "Justice" Minister?? Maybe that controlling urge is in the genes.

author by TTpublication date Sat Apr 10, 2004 02:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I wondered what had happened to BICO, the British and Irish Communist Organisation. I thought they had been absorbed into some other grouping twenty or more years ago, after their 'Two-nation' theory became absorbed by the 'Stickies'.
In the seventies BICO were often disparagingly referred to as the "British and Irish Communist Orangemen" because of that same two-nation theory.

author by Captain Whitepublication date Sat Apr 10, 2004 10:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Still no sign of the letters in answer to Senator Mansergh in the Irish Times, even though they were written by one individual (Jack Lane of the Aubane Historical Society, named by Senator Mansergh in his column and by the publisher of the Irish Political Review (again named by Senator Mansergh in his column).

In the past the IT would be fairly rigorous in allowing a right of reply. Bringing the matter to the attention of previous editors would have resulted in denial of publication being lifted. But not any more. Letters and emails to the Editor are left unanswered and the once relatively open forum of the letters page is narrowed down to the “authorised” version.

Should we care? I believe we should when a publication that claims to be open and that has played a role, however narrowly, in venting debate about serious issues, closes down a democratic space previously open to citizens.

The Times is desperate not to air its dirty linen in public. Apropos the information about an original publication of the “white nigger” letter above: it is clear that the Times was content to leave the information in the hands of the relatively small number of people who read the publication concerned. They only responded when they had to, when the story was carried in another national newspaper. And then, as I point out above, one anonymously written article was written that treated readers like cretins. It was seriously suggested that the Major was merely building “links” between he Irish and British governments. He was all right, via the subversion of his own newspaper, and in the same way as the British Ambassador was building links with the leader of the Fine Gael opposition, that lead to the Arms Trial and the framing of Captain Kelly.

Putting the British Ambassador's letter on the web in the way that I have (thanks to Indymedia), means that it is no longer a forgotten episode and that the original letter in all its pristine racism, arrogance and "hot under the collar" fury is available for permanent observation by a sceptical public. It is a permanent reminder that Irish Times demands for openness about everything in Irish society exclude itself. It is as is the Times stands apart from the society it comments upon. Wasn’t that what got Major McDowell into trouble in the first place? If the Irish Times cannot be honest and open about itself, why should we trust it to be honest about anything?

Still waiting for the Times to print those letters……….

(PS - Deirdre Clancy comment above - Minister McDowell is not in the same genetic family as the IT Major, but his racist referendum indicates that he is in the same one politically, when it comes to attitudes to “niggers”, whether white or black.)

author by Captain Mackeypublication date Sun Apr 11, 2004 02:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mansergh played a key role in Fianna Fail during the period when Anglo-American imperialism 'solved' the Irish Problem with the Goood Friday agreement. Whether he was a paid British agent is beside the point: in effect, he was, and is, an agent of imperialism.

author by Captain Whitepublication date Sun Apr 11, 2004 14:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On my count that makes four captains and two majors. However, I fear that Captain Mackey has blundered into the battlefield to pick a separate fight with Martin Mansergh.

Whatever role he plays, Martin Mansergh is to be congratulated for raising the issue of the mad Major and his (so he thought) private racist chat with his masters in HMG about his own editor and paper - after the Irish Times thought they had buried the issue for good.

I look forward to scanning the IT letters page tomorrow to see if a right of reply is granted to Lane and Alvey.

author by Captain Whitepublication date Tue Apr 13, 2004 19:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Still no sign of a right of reply in the Irish Times for those criticised by Martin Mansergh in his column of April 3.

That being the case, and assuming that this censorship will continue, I have copied the letters for the benefit of Indymedia readers. The issue at this stage is not whether we agree or disagree with the sentiments expressed. It is that the Irish Times is engaged in a suppression of information:

a) about the role of its owner in subverting the editorial independence of the paper;


b) from people criticised by Irish Times columnists who demand the right to answer back.

Maybe this censorship is 'personal'. Is it because one of the letter writers below is the person who discovered the secret British document in which Major Thomas McDowell is cited as referring to the Irish Times Editor as a “renegade.. white nigger”?

How long more can this censorship continue?

Find out:

The Irish Times telephone number is 01 6792022

Email is newsdesk@irish-times.ie, editor@irish-times.ie, readersrep@irish-times.ie


Mr. Mansergh implied in his article on 3rd April that members of this Society consider him a spy. He provided no evidence for this because there is none. Neither have we had any need whatever to indulge in conspiracy theories when commenting on what he does and says. Based on what he has written in your paper and in correspondence with us (published and not just ‘circulating’‚ as he states) he has consistently misrepresented the Irish Times Trust, Major McDowell and the role of Elizabeth Bowen in Irish affairs and this is what we have sought to point out.

The fact that we now find ourselves in their company, as another object of his misrepresentations, is a rare achievement indeed on his part. A la Adlai Stevenson, we offer to stop telling the truth about him if he stops telling lies about us.

Yours etc., Jack Lane, PRO, Aubane Historical Society, Aubane.


In his column of April 3rd Martin Mansergh attempts to portray Jack Lane and Brendan Clifford of the North Cork Aubane Historical Society as irrational conspiracy theorists. In doing so he refers to an article by Brendan Clifford in the March edition of the Irish Political Review (IPR) in which the Irish Times is described as “the ‘Irish’ newspaper that is acceptable to Downing Street”.

Later in the column which has the title “Why I’m not a spy in spite of all you hear” he describes various Government Ministers and others who have suspected him of working for British intelligence. He concludes by lumping all the ‘conspiracy’ theorists‚ together. In all of this Dr Mansergh is misrepresenting articles and arguments that originated in the IPR and avoiding serious engagement with the underlying ideas.

Firstly, as he states, Brendan Clifford and Jack Lane were the first to draw attention (in the IPR) to the significance of a letter, released into the public domain in 2003, from the British Ambassador, Sir Andrew Gilchrist, to the Irish Times majority shareholder, Major Thomas McDowell, referring to the former Irish Times editor, Douglas Gageby. Major McDowell had previously expressed his concern to the Ambassador in words to the effect that his editor had ‘gone native’.

Dr Mansergh is happy to give the Irish Times a clean bill of health on this matter and conveniently sidesteps commenting on the Irish Times Trust that was ‘reformed’ before he started writing for the paper. But is it reasonable that a newspaper as influential as the Irish Times should escape investigation by an independent third party when its owner is shown to give his allegiance to an outside power? Would any other national institution get such gentle treatment?

Secondly, notwithstanding the heat that is generated in arguments about the extent of Elizabeth Bowen's spying activities during the war, there is a more important underlying point. Given that she spied for a foreign power against this state, why should she be claimed as an Irish writer? Her novels were a contribution to English literature. That she is still defended by various influential Irish academics, including Dr Mansergh, testifies to a collapse of faith in the national tradition on the part of what might be called the Irish intelligentsia.

Thirdly, Brendan Clifford’s article in the IPR referred to by Dr Mansergh is entitled, "The Soul of Fianna Fail". Its central point is that politics and journalism are severely out of joint in that the majority of opinion formers in the Irish media are hostile to Fianna Fail, while Fianna Fail continues to be the largest party. Brendan Clifford is arguing that without newspapers that side with the main political parties, Irish democracy is degenerating.

None of these points have received an airing through the media, yet they each need to be debated publicly. Dr Mansergh impugns the people who are grappling with them and otherwise, for the most part, ignores them. Dr Mansergh has every right to defend his reputation through his column. He also deserves credit for the public service he has given through Fianna Fail over two decades. Is it too much to ask that he use his column to deal with important and difficult issues of the day that so far he has only skimmed the surface of?

Yours etc. David Alvey, Publisher of Irish Political Review

author by James Brownepublication date Fri Apr 16, 2004 23:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am not surprised the Times tried to bury this. But why have other media organisations not jumped up and down about it.

Why not RTE?

Question for the Captain
What was that about lies told in Irish Times editorials about the North? Can you clarify?

author by Captain Whitepublication date Sat Apr 17, 2004 18:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In answer to the above: during the week of November 4th-8th 2002, the Irish Times printed editorials on the North that were factually wrong. The first was grudgingly half corrected and the second not at all.

It is indicative of the Irish Times attitude: any lie will do if republicans are the target. The following (unpublished of course) letter gives the details. It did the rounds after the author became completely frustrated by Irish Times censorship.

Twice in the one week an Irish Times editorial has got it wrong in relation to the North. On Monday November 4th you accused the IRA (or "republican bully boys" as you termed them) of nailing a young man, Harry McCartan, to a fence the previous Saturday morning. On Tuesday, after I had alerted the Readers' Representative, a half-hearted correction was inserted (though not as yet in the online edition *). It was asserted, after unnecessary repetition of the phrase "republican bully boys", that "in fact" the "probability" was that loyalist paramilitaries had carried out the attack. Leaving aside the difficulty of defining probability as fact, readers have yet to receive a convincing explanation from the Irish Times for why this completely unnecessary error occurred. In any case, everyone who knows anything knows that loyalists did it. That is a fact that even Tony Blair acknowledges with greater conviction than the Irish Times can muster (Irish Times, November 8th).

It might be thought that the episode indicates a need for caution before any further rush to editorial judgement.

However, on Friday November 8th you accused the IRA of "malignant activities" as a result of the arrest of a civil servant who worked in the offices of Mark Durkan and David Trimble. You quoted the apocalyptic concerns of Mr Trimble and his party to back up your attack on republicans. It must have again caused one or two red faces in the editorial department of your newspaper when, on the same day, the man was released without charge and without a blemish on his character, save for that which was directly occasioned by your editorial comment.

From a political point of view, perhaps you consider fairness towards those you so bitterly oppose unnecessary. However, from the point of view of safeguarding the authority of the Irish Times, a tradition for fairness and objectivity stretching back decades, would it not be prudent to wait before jumping to ill considered and hasty conclusions that are based on falsehoods? In addition, should you not question a tendency to start with your conclusions and then finding convenient facts to fit them, which then in turn out not to be facts at all?

As a reader who genuinely values the stated aspirations of the Irish Times to be fair, comprehensive, accountable and responsible I ask you to make amends by publishing an account of how you intend to amend editorial procedures and practices. In addition, would it be a good idea to consider looking at the functioning of the position of readers' representative and making it a truly independent position, subject to some form of external accountability.

While you are at it you might consider apologising to the civil servant in question and, come to think of it, to the IRA. The only reason not to do so is on the basis that fairness and objectivity do not apply when covering the latter. But that, I submit, is where your problem comes from in the first place.

Yours sincerely, etc"

* The online edition correction took another month to appear

Note: the November 8th Irish Times editorial linked the bogus arrest of the junior civil servant to the previous arrest of four Sinn Fein members allegedly for spying, which resulted in the collapse of the institutions in the North. Trumped up charges ensued. FF senator Martin Mansergh suggests in today’s Irish Times (April 17 2004) that, as in Colombia, the hand of British intelligence was and is behind these sinister developments – the same hand that Irish Times proprietor Major MacDowell fed off. The Colombia Three still languish in jail after a farce of a ‘trial’, the most serious of the spying charges in the North have been quietly dropped and, most seriously, the Institutions are still down. Ian Paisley has taken over from mini-Paisley, David Trimble. Well done the Irish Times for helping to carry on Major McDowell’s legacy.

Maybe now Senator Mansergh will advise his boss Bertie to stop playing petty party politics with the racist citizenship referendum (that adversely affects the Good Friday Agreement) and advise against jumping on the PD anti Sinn Fein bandwagon. This too, aftter all, is part of the MI5 agenda.

Maybe he could have a quiet word in the ear of the Irish Times editor and get her to start a proper public enquiry into what Major MacDowell has been doing to the paper. Then again, maybe that is how she got her job.

author by Corporal Blackpublication date Mon Apr 19, 2004 14:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Was Irish Times owner MI5's man?
Story published on Indymedia makes the Guardian Media section April 19 2004. Major McDowell's links to MI5 revealed by Roy Greenslade.

Maybe there is more to come?

Who knows?

When will the IT come clean?
Major mystery By Roy Greenslade
The Guardian April 19 2004

Newspaper owners love to play at politics, but some interventions are more sinister than others. One extraordinary example has emerged in Ireland, where the former controller of the Irish Times has been revealed to have labelled one of his editors as a "white nigger" due to his paper's coverage of the troubles in Northern Ireland in 1969.

At the time Major Thomas McDowell - now aged 85 - was chairman and chief executive. He had lunch with the British ambassador in Dublin, Andrew Gilchrist, and offered himself as a British-Irish go-between. Gilchrist reported on their conversation to the Foreign Office, observing that McDowell was "increasingly concerned" about the line his paper was pursuing under editor, Douglas Gageby, whom McDowell described as "a very fine journalist, an excellent man, but on northern questions, a renegade or white nigger."

Gilchrist added: "There is difficulty lower down, whereby sometimes unauthorised items appear and authorised items are left out."

Now McDowell's activities have come under renewed scrutiny. It was recalled, for instance, that the late Mirror group chairman, Cecil King, referred in his diaries to McDowell having been linked to MI5. For once, a conspiracy theory may be true.

Related Link: http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,7558,1194582,00.html
author by Dessertspoonpublication date Mon Apr 19, 2004 15:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Maybe, in light of such revelations as this, it is time for those who frequently visit this site and brand republicans "terrorists" and "murderers" to reflect on why they have such a mentality.

Is it because you have been interpellated, by such moguls as Major McDowell (and 'Sir O'Reilly), into their ways of thinking, by newspapers virulently opposed to any anti-capitalist organisation?

author by stuartpublication date Mon Apr 19, 2004 17:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

and honour.
Douglas Gagesby.

author by Captain Whitepublication date Tue Apr 20, 2004 09:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Roy Greenslade of the Guardian was just on Newstalk 106 with David MacWilliams, talking about the Irish Times' refusal to draw attention to the "renegade... white nigger" document in 2000 - and the allegations about Major McDowell and MI5 in Cecil King's diary.

author by funny thatpublication date Tue Apr 20, 2004 14:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One of the letters above appeared in IT in last Couple of days - Just as this hit Fron Page here

author by Captain Brennanpublication date Tue Apr 20, 2004 17:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good work, Captain White!
You have brought attention to a very serious charge against the Irish Times. It's a pity that both they, and their rivals, who are mainly owned by Tony O'Reilly (Star, Indo, Tribune, nearly evry local paper you can think of) have a vested interest in keeping this out of the news.

Spotting who's not an MI5 agent at the Sunday Independent might be your next task?

author by Elizpublication date Thu Apr 22, 2004 12:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is a letter in the Guardian today from Jack Lane about this issue. I think Roy Greenslade has also mentioned it.

author by petra - nonepublication date Thu Apr 22, 2004 12:54author address earthauthor phone don'tReport this post to the editors

this is just great.Even if it is fake it is pretty darn good.Anything for a laugh.....wee done

author by Private Greenpublication date Thu Apr 22, 2004 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lost letter
Thursday April 22, 2004 The Guardian

Roy Greenslade (Major Mystery, Media, April 19) wrote about a letter from the British ambassador in Dublin in 1969, in which he told how one of the most distinguished editors of the Irish Times, Douglas Gageby, was referred to as a "renegade ... white nigger" by the then proprietor, Major Thomas McDowell. The proprietor asked for Downing Street's direction on how to run the Irish Times in Britain's interest.

I discovered the letter in the records office in Kew in January 2003. Roy is right, the letter was suppressed by the Irish Times, which had sight of the file in January 2000. (The letter can be found on Indymedia.ie).

Jack Lane
Aubane Historical Society

Related Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,1200146,00.html
author by Captain Whitepublication date Fri Apr 23, 2004 07:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors


(IT April 23 2004)

I was wrong to say that The Irish Times had not published any of the allegations made in 1969 by the then British ambassador, Sir Andrew Gilchrist, about a conversation he had with your paper's former chairman and current president for life, Major Thomas McDowell.

I now know that the substance of these allegations was carried by your paper on January 27th, 2003 in a story headlined "Major McDowell rejects UK envoy's claim".

As a teacher of journalism students I stress the importance of factual accuracy, so I am embarrassed by having made such a mistake.

That said, however, I stand by my belief that The Irish Times's record in this matter is hardly beyond criticism. When Gilchrist's letter was released by the British Public Record Office in January 2000, the paper was guilty of self-censorship by failing to publish its contents, especially the claim that Major McDowell referred to his editor at the time, Douglas Gageby, as a "white nigger", and that he was happy for Downing Street to direct or, at least, influence your paper's coverage of the North. Surely this was of importance to your staff and readers.

These sensitive claims remained secret until discovered by Jack Lane of the Aubane Historical Society three years later. He reported his discovery to you, but nothing appeared until the allegations in the Gilchrist letter finally appeared in the Sunday Independent. Next day, you then published the McDowell denial story mentioned above which, in the light of the previous cover-up, was surely an inappropriate way to report the matter.

The implication of the blanket denials is that the ambassador was lying to his chiefs at the British Foreign Office and the matter can therefore hardly be said to have been resolved to anyone's satisfaction.

I have long been an admirer of The Irish Times and, in my capacity as a media commentator, I have often made public statements which hailed your paper as one of Europe's best. But I have to say that this episode has stunned me.

By any objective journalistic criteria, the involvement of a newspaper controller in affairs of state, especially in talks with the representatives of a foreign country, required much greater candour from a paper of record. - Yours, etc.,


Madam, - I would like to correct a possibly unintentional error in a letter from David Alvey, publisher of the Irish Political Review (April 19th).

Mr Alvey wrote that a letter in 1969 from the British Ambassador to a Whitehall official concerning the then owner of The Irish Times, Major Thomas McDowell, was "released into the public domain in 2003". In fact the letter was released into the public domain in the British Public Records Office in January 2000. It would be correct to say that that it was first published in 2003 in the Irish Political Review.

The Irish Times apparently deliberately ignored this letter. The Irish Times published a story on other letters in the PRO file concerning the ambassador and Major McDowell in January 2000. The letter that was suppressed contained racist references, attributed to Major McDowell, directed at a former editor of The Irish Times, Douglas Gageby, and contained a request from Major McDowell for guidance from 10 Downing Street on editorial control of The Irish Times. Gageby was referred to as a "renegade or white nigger".

After attention was drawn to the letter in the Sunday Independent in late January 2003, The Irish Times responded once and once only with an anonymous article that attempted to kill off interest in the story. Further discussion was, it would appear, closed off.

The censored letter is reproduced on Indymedia.ie. The Irish Times has yet to adequately discuss the import of the letter and, more seriously, explain why disclosure of the letter was suppressed in January 2000.

Readers of Ireland's newspaper of record demand answers. - Yours, etc.,


Geraldine Kennedy IRISH TIMES Editor writes:
"The contents of the letter in question were published in The Irish Times on January 27th, 2003, as soon as its existence was drawn to my attention. - Ed., IT."

1 Geraldine Kennedy's role
Geraldine Kennedy's comment above is misleading. We now know that she received a copy on January 10 2003 from Jack Lane (and replied to him on January 15) - the IT did not publish the letter then ("...as soon as its existence was drawn to my attention"??). It was only after the Sunday Independent drew it to public attention on January 26 2003 that the IT published a negative reaction story anonymously ("Irish Times reporter" January 27 2003). As Roy Greenslade says above, this is "hardly beyond criticism", "an inappropriate way to report the matter" and "required much greater candour from a paper of record".

2 Role of Irish Times
There is no comment on the fact that the Irish Times suppressed the document from January 2000 (when the IT put a laudatory spin on McDowell's role, based on other letters in the same Public Records Office file, Jan 3 2000, and ignored the "renegade... white nigger' letter) to January 2003. When the Sunday Independent published on January 26 2003, the Irish Times had no option but to come clean – but only in way that killed the story for a time.

That time is now over – thanks to indymedia

author by General Stonewallpublication date Fri Apr 23, 2004 12:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A blow-by-blow account of the role of the Irish Times in suppressing the document after January 2000, and even after Jack Lane sent it to the Editor Geraldine Kennedy on January 10 2003.


Nice picture of Douglas Gageby in Belfast as well, engaging in "renegade" activities by unveiling a United Irishmen memorial.

Douglas Gageby: the "renegade" Protestant Editor of the Irish Times
Douglas Gageby: the "renegade" Protestant Editor of the Irish Times

Related Link: http://www.anphoblacht.com/news/detail/4342
author by OUP Millarpublication date Sat Apr 24, 2004 08:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Except it is the owner of the Daily Express they are referring to.

"Owner of 'Daily Express' accused of racism
Frank Millar in London Irish Times April 24 2004
BRITAIN: The owner of the Daily Express newspaper, Mr Richard Desmond, was accused of a "grotesque outburst of slander and racism" yesterday after goose-stepping around a boardroom and branding all Germans "Nazis"."

It is a good job he does not own the Irish Times, otherwise we would have to wait over three years for the story – or even 33 years!

author by Major Conan Drummpublication date Wed Apr 28, 2004 13:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The revelations concerning the Irish Times should have come as a shock but somehow they don't. Capt. White has done the paper's readers a great service and I wish the Captain well in her/his journalistic career... The fact that the number he/she gives for the paper in the emails is 679 2022 suggests a long connection with the D'Olier Street organ... it's the old (but still working) Irish Times number which you won't find in the phone book any more. Be careful Captain!

It may be that this is where the rot began to set in at the paper - Major MacDowell, the IT Trust, Brady's excessive remuneration etc etc but it's now all-pervasive and if there's one thing worse than a rag (like the Indo group or the Sunday "news" papers) it's a rag that has pretensions - i.e. The Irish Times.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the IT's abject failure to critically examine the current housing crisis. Why? Because, presumably, any objective and thorough analysis would threaten the cash bonaza brought in each week by the property supplement.

I seem to recall The Irish Times publishing campaigning articles on the late 1960s housing crisis. How times change, especially when developers, auctioneers, and wealthy property owners own your ass.

Editorially the Irish Times is now a rag without independence, courage or any convictions. Douglas Gageby, you are greatly missed.

author by Captain Whitepublication date Thu Apr 29, 2004 14:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you for the warning, Major with the double-barrelled name (another "renegade” perhaps).

I see that Conor Brady attacks Roy Greenslade in today’s IT and removes himself almost completely from all blame.

Somebody suppressed the document in 2000. (The IT definitely suppressed it for as long as possible in Jan 2003 – but that is after Brady’s time as Editor).

Who did the dirty deed in 2000?

Time to mobilise the intelligence corps methinks. See you all soon.

author by Major Conan Drummpublication date Thu Apr 29, 2004 17:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Greetings Captain White.

Yes, I read the great Con Brady's letter in today's Irish Property Times. I had to laugh when I saw he had perfumed it with a whiff of the law library... "gravely defamatory" indeed!! He must be smarting!

By the way, is there any truth in the rumour that his "Emeritus" title is worth €100,000 a year on top of his fulsome pension entitlements?

The Major is probably looking out his window with a baleful if rheumy eye thinking, 'It's damned white of the taig Brady, getting onside, putting in his tuppence worth.'

The most newsworthy headline in the IT today is that a house on Sorrento Terrace, Dalkey is apparently on the market for €3.8million... [ie you learn below that it's 'guiding' for €3.8million].

What planet are they on... it will sell for €6million +. Why don't they write that as the headline? At least it'd be honest, though it might cause them to momentarlly question where this country is going ... thousands of families on local authority housing lists while houses commonly sell for millions to the Conor Brady classes... what on earth could be the cause?

The Irish Times... brought to you by... Sherry Fitzgerald, Gunnes, HOK, Lisney & Co., Ganly Waters, Jackson Stops, Daphne L. Kaye, Douglas Newman Good etc etc etc... they who pay the piper call the tune.

author by ribbonmen - .publication date Thu Apr 29, 2004 17:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I like the IPT ref - too true. Too many young (ish) people are being cut out / rackrented / sold into bonded labour. That is why the army is on the streets in dublin. The Irish Times does not know what the real world looks like. IPT is the Disease - Indymedia if enough people with varying interests and obsessions get their shit together - is the cure though the course of the illness may be that it gets worse before it gets better. Thanks to the various captains for some eye-opening dialogue for once here.

author by eeekkkkpublication date Thu Jul 28, 2005 16:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A headline from the weekend has reappeared on front page of today's online front page

" Labour urges Dáil recall over Dublin Port and Shell issues
The Labour Party has called on the Taoiseach to recall the Dáil next week to deal with critical problems which have emerged within the portfolio of the Minister for Marine and Natural Resources and his junior partner. Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent, and Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent, report."

Good buzz - hope it's a human gremlin rather than a mosheen one. Only journalist written thing about this issue in the online paper today. Nada in real one xcept letters.

Related Link: http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/front/2005/0728/index.html
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