Seldom has there been such an overt political attempt to influence the media.
It began by the targeting of Newsletter Deputy Editor Ben Lowry, who was subjected to a barrage of intimidation and abuse due to the fact the republican movement found his views unacceptable.
Then a campaign to target the Stephen Nolan show swung into action. Clearly orchestrated by Sinn Fein, it targeted Nolan for having a number of unionists deemed ‘unacceptable’ on the show.
Nowhere did the republican campaign raise any objections to liberal, progressives, radical Irish language lobbyists or republican commentators. That, in of itself, tells you all you need to know about the sectarian motivation behind the campaign against a free press.
It is a gradual wave of Sinn Fein targeting of those voices which they deem politically unacceptable. The wave of intimidation will continue to spread until it ends up as only those compliant persons that echo Sinn Fein’s narrative. It is campaign to ensure that when it comes to the airwaves, for Sinn Fein it is literally ‘ourselves alone’.
This campaign was initially whipped up by Sinn Fein press officer Sean Maguire. Mr Maguire, a former journalist himself, has moved on somewhat from his earlier days in the IRA when he played a key role in kidnappings, such as that of Sandy Lynch. It is believed he is soon to be arrested by the operation Kenova team. He is the brother of IRA killer Harry Maguire, convicted for the gruesome murder of two British soldiers in 1988.
Maguire was quickly aided in his campaign by Robin Livingston, the editor of the Andersonstown News who hides behind the twitter handle @squinteratn to abuse other journalists and peddle a relentless stream of Sinn Fein propaganda.
In 2008 after he dared to think for himself and criticise the then West Belfast MP, he was ordered (yes, the editor was ordered) to apologise the following week. The Andersonstown News meekly bowed before Gerry Adams by apologising publicly and stating that the column had been “inappropriate and unnecessary”.
What has been interesting is that a number of low level journalists, who regularly criticise Nolan but then jump at the chance to get on his show, have joined in the targeting of a fellow journalist.
It’s interesting that these same unsuccessful individuals find themselves now being promoted by Sinn Fein’s surrogates.
The NUJ has been silent, why? Is it now acceptable to target the press with a campaign of intimidation?
People are entitled to criticise Stephen Nolan or object to the contents of his shows. That is quite something different than an orchestrated campaign to boycott a section of the press simply because they put public interest above being politically compliant.
At what point during the RHI scandal, Nama or bonfire season did Sinn Fein orchestrate a #BoycottNolan campaign?
There are two key elements to this, one is that this is an orchestrated sectarian campaign to try and bully Stephen Nolan into censoring grassroots unionist voices, and the other is that it is a laboratory for Sinn Fein, who are using this as a test case to see how far they can bully the press to bend to their will.
It’s about time all journalists came out and backed Stephen Nolan. Like him or loath him it is Nolan today, but what outlet will they go after next?
Someone should also ask Sinn Fein for their policy on freedom of the press, because it appears that at the moment their policy is to orchestrate a mob to target any outlets that do not bend to their will.
What is it they want, Nolan to roll over to them and have his belly tickled like Robin Livingston in 2008? Unionists to apologise for having a voice?
There is no difference between the mob that chased Kevin Magee up the street and those that are not ganging up to try and bully Stephen Nolan.
It’s not Nazi Germany…