Why Jim’s fighting The Good Fight
Veteran journalist Jim McDowell started his career at the Belfast News Letter in 1969, the year the Troubles began in earnest. Raised in Donegall Pass, staunchly working class, he grew up playing in flute bands and dreaming of becoming a reporter, loving the romance of the cut and thrust of newspaper journalism. The bantering Belfast man would go on to become editor of the Sunday World for 25 years and a journalist for 45, gaining a name for himself as a fearless critic of the terrorists wreaking havoc on the streets. In particular McDowell and his colleagues at the Sunday World set about exposing the so-called ‘brigadiers of bling’ who made up the various paramilitary loyalist factions, men making money by peddling drugs, terrorising neighbourhoods with their gangland violence and engaging in the assault and murder of innocent people with apparent impunity. Over the years McDowell has received 21 death threats - enough to wallpaper a room, he jokes - for exposing such criminality; the premises of the Sunday World were fire-bombed; and in 2001 Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan was brutally murdered by the LVF because of his fearless attempts to hold murderers and bully boys to account in print, such exposure being wholly in the public interest. Combative truth-telling came at great personal cost: most recently McDowell was assaulted by loyalists at Belfast Christmas Market in 2009.