Guardian breaks silence over Roy Greenslade’s IRA support

The Guardian newspaper has said it will be reviewing historical Roy Greenslade articles to ensure they meet its editorial standards, after the columnist revealed he supported the IRA and viewed himself as a “messenger”.
Roy Greenslade.  Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Advertising Week EuropeRoy Greenslade.  Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Advertising Week Europe
Roy Greenslade. Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Advertising Week Europe

In recent days, veteran journalist Greenslade has admitted having secretly written material backing the republican movement, under false names, while also writing for mainstream media publications that were outspoken in their opposition to terrorist violence.

In 2014, he published an article in the Guardian following a BBC Spotlight programme on Mairia Cahill’s claim of rape (when aged 16) by an alleged IRA member, and her subsequent “interrogation” by senior IRA figures when she complained.

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Greenslade responded by writing a column – complaining that the programme-makers “were too willing to accept Cahill’s story and did not point to countervailing evidence”.

He wrote: “This lack of balance resulted in the Cahill story being accepted at face value across Ireland, where [Gerry] Adams and his party were forced on to the back foot as they tried to defend and explain the IRA’s actions.”

Writing for the British Journalism Review, Greenslade now reveals how he was a “messenger” who backed the republican cause.

“I wanted peace and played a very minor role as messenger at a crucial moment during the process itself. But I understand why the conflict occurred and do not regret my support for those who fought it. I am pleased at last to come out from hiding and explain myself to everyone,” he wrote last week.

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He added: “I cannot say for sure when I started to write for the republican paper, An Phoblacht. My contributions, some of them under the George King pseudonym, some unattributed, were irregular.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Guardian said: “The Guardian’s independent readers’ editor has received a complaint from Mairia Cahill and is investigating this issue.

“The readers’ editor will also be reviewing other historical Roy Greenslade articles concerning Northern Ireland, to ensure that they meet the Guardian’s editorial standards and are sufficiently transparent.”

Speaking to the News Letter on Tuesday, Ms Cahill said: “He should now publish every single thing that he wrote [under a pseudonym]. Interestingly, An Phoblacht has not included the ‘George King’ articles in their archive. In what way was he a messenger? Was his role to put things out on behalf of Sinn Fein and the IRA?

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“Did someone from Sinn Fein or the IRA approach Greenslade to write that piece for the Guardian?

“He lists the sources [for the article] underneath and one of them is a website that is no longer online, because it was defamatory, and another one said ‘private information’.

“I would find it very strange that if Sinn Fein or the IRA felt that there was someone in a position of influence in England, the whole way through the conflict, that they wouldn’t be sending him information to print.

“[Is the Guardian] going to stand over all of those pieces that he wrote while he had a secret double life?”

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• In his 2014 Guardian report on the Mairia Cahill programme – under the heading ‘BBC programme on IRA rape allegations flawed by lack of political balance’ – Roy Greenslade said the BBC NI programme “resulted in severe political embarrassment for Sinn Féin, especially for its president, Gerry Adams”.

Greenslade also claimed the programme-makers failed to take account of Maira Cahill’s supposed “anti-Sinn Fein agenda”.

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