• March 2, 2016


Stick your head above the public parapet and you are fair game for the media. I certainly found that over the years as being both prominent in the National movement and also Trade Unions I was clearly marked as a target.

During the days of the old Manx Independent when the late John Herdman was the resident satirical cartoonist I found myself the subject of his satire which could often be biting as he was, I think I can safely say, a Manx satirical cartoonist whose equal we are yet to find.

Similarly if you put a foot wrong or more aptly put your ‘foot in your mouth’ the media jumped on it. It wasn’t just me they did the same with other especially political figures.

It goes with the territory of having a free press and media and therefore that’s why I was surprised when there was an attack of IOM newspapers (plainly on its Editor Richard Butt pictured) for running the front page picture of Zac Hall’s head superimposed on the body of a parrot.

The paper wanted to criticise Hall for plagiarising and I suppose the way it did it was cutting but plainly if Hall felt that strongly about the issue he was speaking on (Same Sex Marriage) he surely could have found his own words to express himself.

To the rescue of the sorry ‘Parrot’ comes Chris Robertshaw given air time on Manx Radio on Sunday and now allowed a further bite at the cherry to express his disdain for the Newspaper in a most forthright manner describing the piece as ‘cheap and nasty gutter journalism’ on MR News.

Now ordinarily I would say that Mr Robertshaw view is a one he is perfectly entitled to hold indeed I’m on record as saying the stand that he took with three others over the same sex marriage bill was perfectly justified if he/they genuinely felt that strongly about it.

However this attack on the paper is over the top. Manx newspapers have NEVER descended, thankfully, to the level of the UK gutter press and this article that seems to have offended Mr Robershaw so much was nowhere near the excesses perpetrated by UK redtops.

One of the things fortunately that IOM Newspapers are doing is holding politicians and the government to account during an election year. That may be unpalatable to some politicians. However we are lucky we still have a few journalists that speak out.

I remarked some months ago when I recalled the deaths in Ireland (just 50 miles from us) of journalists Veronica Guerin (killed by gangsters) and Martin O’Hagan (killed by paramilitaries) that we were lucky we had press tolerance here. Strangely as well as ‘getting up the noses’ of those beasts that would ultimately kill them those two Irish journalists also criticised politicians and probably had few friends among the establishment.

We need to remember that and not allow the oxygen of intolerance to inhibit journalistic freedom even if on occasion politicians and public lobbyists (like yours truly!) find themselves on the receiving end of journalistic opprobrium! It’s not ‘gutter journalism’ it goes with the turf!


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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