Professor slams '˜conflict journalism at its worst'

A Queen's University professor has accused the News Letter of 'conflict journalism' for a report about Martin McGuinness appearing at the annual victims and survivor's conference for the first time.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Saturday, 12th March 2016, 2:26 pm
Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Judith Thompson led the two-day conference.

Yesterday’s News Letter carried reaction to his appearance from Ann Travers, who heard him speak and whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA in 1984.

She took issue with the fact that he told victims present the UK was hiding files about the past behind ‘bogus’ national security issues while he had refused to give any information on his IRA past to the Saville inquiry. She also took issue with the legal definition of a victim, which equates terrorists with their victims.

But Professor of Post Conflict Studies at Queen’s, John D Brewer, tweeted that the News Letter front page headline on the report – Victim slams ex-IRA chief – was “conflict journalism at its worst”.

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He said of Ms Travers’ comments that “no one person represents victims” and added that “journalists can construct all kinds of stories depending on who it is they rely on as their source”.

Ms Travers, a member of Innocent Victims United which supports 11,500 members, declined to respond.

Victims campaigner Willie Frazer, who also attended the conference, took issue yesterday with which victims spoke from the platform and to the media afterwards, claiming that they were implying that there would be no investigations in to Troubles era murders. “Nobody has the right to say that to us,” he said. “Especially when our loved ones died serving their country.”

Victims commissioner Judith Thompson has not offered any comment to the News Letter on the issues.

We have received several letters criticising the McGuinness speech.