Wigmore - Sunday Tribune, the Sunday World's Bill Stuart, Fianna Fail and the ESRI
THE FUTURE of The Sunday Tribune continues to be uncertain. At a staff meeting in July the editor, Conor Brady, said that negotiations were takking place with a British research group and with The Irish Times with a view to partnership or take-over. We have since learnt, however, that both these options have now been closed. The British research group involved was AGB Research, one of the largest consumer research organisations in the world - they have also an in terest in business magazines and considered for a while buying Vision from the Smurfit organisation. They examined the possibilities of involving themselves with The Sunday Tribune but decided against. So too with The Irish Times. Its chairman, Major McDowell, told us that there had been several contacts between them and The Sunday Triibune but they had decided emphatiically against any involvement also.
Meanwhile The Sunday Tribune continues to burden itself with the exxpense of the magazine, which has never been successful, and which has now been farmed out to Heather Parrsons, formerly of Woman's Way. Some attempts have been made to off-load surplus staff but nothing significant has been done. This means that the weekly cost of producing the paper is still in the realm of £50,000 - the losses must be still running at around £15,000. However, its chairman, Hugh McLaughlin, remains confident, not alone that he can secure the future of the paper but that he will be in a posiition to launch a new daily paper in the autumn.
THE PRIZE for the most brazen brass neck in Irish politics must surely go to Brendan Halligan, the former general secretary of the Labour party and the person most responsible for the debbacle that has befallen the party over the last decade. Halligan recently pennned a series of articles for The Irish Times on various Crises in the Labour Party. He omitted to mention the criisis caused by his own antics - his encouragement of Brendan Corish to pronounce an anti-coalition line forrever; his reneging on the thrust of the party in the late 'sixties; his hatchet job on the party's left in the 'sevennties; his sell-out on Coalition in 1973; his lies to the electors of Dublin South West in 1976; his support for reacctionary legislation in 1976; his cynical
abandonment of the Dublin South West constituency for the 1977 elecction; his grabbing back of the office of general secretary on his defeat in the 1977 election; his further attacks on the left once Cluskey became leadder; his involvement in the collapse of the party under Cluskey ; etc. etc. Halligan is now a lecturer in economics somewhere but he is also a supposed adviser to two of Labour's MEPs, for which he gets, we are told, quite a stiipend - but for doing what?
WE ENDEAVOURED to elicit from the Government Information Service recently what part of the TDs salary of £13,802 per year was tax free. We were told that this was entirely a priivate matter between the TDs and the Revenue Commissioners - i.e. that what our elected representatives effecctively pay themselves with our money should remain a secret!
KIERAN KENNEDY of the ESRI suggested recently that by-elections should be abolished - there is a lot of merit in the proposal. In the first place by-elections are often a distortion of our electoral system, in that they are fought on the basis of a single seat constituency whereas our system is based on multi-seats, which gives smalller parties a better chance of winning seats. Secondly, by-elections have now become a prominent symptom of the sickness that lies at the heart of the Irish political system. Parliamentary and Governmental business gets entireely· ignored for the period of the cammpaign - this presumably is against the national interest for members of both our Parliament and Government are supposedly doing some good for the country. Promises of the wildest naature get made to secure the seat, with the cost to the rest of the country often being quite considerable. There is no good democratic reason why the election agent of the outgoing or deeceased TD shouldn't have the right to nominate the replacement. It would also lead to greater stability of Governnment - if that is a good thing.
BILL STUART, now deputy editor of The Sunday World, recently acquired a licence to import dirty magazines for his own professional use - he claimed that it was necessary for him to read various articles in these journals. One of the magazines which he is now enntitled to import is a French publicaation, Lui. Now it is important to reaalise that whatever Mr. Stuart's other attributes, he neither speaks nor reads French. For what purpose then would he be importing this item - by the way, the pictures are ... well, let's say, cosmopolitan.
IN THE course of the present debate in the Senate on extradition, Brian Lenihan, deputising for the Minister for Justice, said that it was unnecesssary as the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act, which had resulted in the conviction of Gerry Tuite a few days preeviously, was adequate to deal with extra-territorial offences.
The Fianna Fail Government geneerally welcomed Tuite's conviction and of course it was it which allowed the prosecution of Tuite to go ahead. It is relevant therefore to recall what various Fianna Fail spokespeople said about the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Bill when it was introduced by the Coalition Government in 1975.
On April 9, 1975 Michael O'Kennnedy said: "We want to see human rights and human life in particular being protected and we believe that this Bill cannot do that."
Major Vivion de Valera said: "We are worried about your attempts at concealment and your attempts to sell out to the British."
On April 10, 1975 Bernard McGlinnchey said: "I say that anyone in the House or in any other place who suppports in any way the proposal before us this morning is nothing short of a British collaborator."
Mark Killilea said: "I am an Irishhman. I have not seen in the last 10 years or indeed ever in Northern Ireeland the law of democracy as I know it. Therefore the principle of this Bill is incorrect ... it is nothing less than lackeying to the British government."
When the Bill was debated in the Dail in March of 1976 George Colley said: "The most fundamental princiiples of the rights of an accused in criiminallaw are being breached in this."
David Andrews: "We suggest the Bill is impure, wrong and unjust."
Gerry Collins: "We believe that this Bill can only be implemented if the integrity of the RUC, the B Specials, the SAS and all the others can be accepted. I say no, it cannot."
Ray Burke: "Legislation is being drafted for the bullyboys of the Shannkill and their veto only."
Charles Haughey said that the purrpose of the Bill was to placate the loyalists, He said it was "unpalatable and repressive" and said it would have the effect of "institutionalising the Special Criminal Court". He went on:
"Anyone listening to the frightening, chilling ou tline of the psychological terror and physical torture that were practised there must surely have felt compelled to turn away in revulsion from this legislation."
FIANNA FAIL have a nerve complainning about Jim Mitchell's interference with the Gardai when he was Minister for Justice. For almost its entire perriod in office and on several occasions since March 9 last, Fianna Fail have been renowned for getting people off various prosecutions through in terrf'erence with the Gardai. Apart from that the party has shamelessly used the Gardai to promote cronies, hacks and of course constituents. The story about Mitchell's interference was about during the last general election cammpaign. Various Fianna Fail fronttbenchers attempted to interest various journalists in the story but without success. They were finally successful during the Galway East by-election campaign, which is bully for them.
MUCH MORE serious for Mitchell, however, may be the result of the ennquiry into the "over-ride" facility on certain phones during the first Haugghey administration. If it transpires that there was no mischievous intent in-
volved in placing these phones in the first place and if it emerges without doubt that the facility was put to no improper use, it just will not be suffficient for Mitchell to claim that he made no such allegation. He let reeporters know before he made his announcement in the Dail that it was to be the "most important speech in (his) career" and he went on to reemark in the course of that statement that he had awaited a non-electoral opportunity to bring the matter up - he was clearly implying that what he was saying had implications beeyond the mere facts as he presented them.