The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Sunday World vs. Thugs

Mick Hall • 2 September 2005

In a recent article in Scotland on Sunday, Brian Wilson wrote about the boycott organized by loyalist para-militaries against the Sunday World newspaper. Whilst the red tops are not my first port of call when buying a Sunday paper, the Sunday World has a record of putting its money were its mouth is. Unlike many of the tabloids which sell in the UK and ROI, the Sunday World has not flinched at taking on powerful groups who have vested interest in remaining anonymous, not least the Loyalist para-military groups the UDA and UVF.

Indeed, the paper's Belfast office was fire-bombed in 1999 and its northern editor was shot and wounded. Worse was to follow when when one of the paper's tireless seekers of truth Martin O'Hagan was shot dead yards from his Lurgan home. The Loyalist Volunteer Force, founded by the late Billy Wright after he was expelled from the UVF, claimed responsibility, justifying their cowardly act by claiming Mr O'Hagan had committed 'crimes against loyalism'. Which in reality means Marty exposed the murderers, drug dealers and gangsters which make up this criminal gang.

Not for the first time the Sunday World is facing a boycott organized by loyalist para-military's; this time it is being organized by the UDA and its murder gang the UFF. What sparked off this boycott? Some high minded matter of principle, some unjust deed being perpetrated against the Unionist working classes? Far from it. As is the norm these days with loyalist paramilitaries, self interest is the motivating factor. The Sunday World's crime is exposing the north Belfast UDA leader/'Brigadier' Andre Shoukri for the degenerate gambler he undoubtedly is.

By exposing the huge sums he wastes on his addiction, the rest of the UDA 'Brigadiers' thus starting to think he may bring civil forfeiture, by the likes of the Criminal Assets Bureau, down upon all of them. Better put a stop to all newspaper talk of them sloshing about their ill gotten gains. Hence the boycott, which one of these self appointed satraps had the effrontery to compare with the boycott of the Sun newspaper by the people of Liverpool, after that paper slandered the dead of the Hillsborough Sheffield football stadium disaster.

Far from the boycott having the support of the unionist community, within working class areas and beyond, news-agent have been paid a visit by Shoukri's neaderthal men demanding of the shopkeeper if he values his/her health they should cease stocking the Sunday World.

One can hardly blame them if they do as they are instructed, the more so as for the last few weeks the PSNI have sat back and allowed loyalist para-militaries on the Garnerville housing estate in east Belfast and Ahoghill to run amok without fear of penalty. Although these threats negate all talk of this being a popular boycott; it is simply an extension of thuggery into the market.

It is difficult to believe if thugs were going about their business and threatening the market in this manner in any other part of the UK, the police service would sit back and allow it to happen. Yet this is what has been happening in the north. Nor would the rest of the media, whether print or electronic fail to place this at the front of their agenda, for they would be wide awake to the fact if these low lifes succeed in their intimidation of the Sunday World, it would be in all probability be their turn next.

Yet, apart for the Scotland on Sunday piece and the odd article here and there, this boycott in-truth has been successful. As to the government of the day, nothing but silence; and this at a time when Ministers endlessly prattle on about the rule of law and their worldwide fight against terrorism. Perhaps those who feel this attack on the freedom of the press is none of their business should re-read the poem made famous by Pastor Martin Niemoller.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

There is a postscript to this story. Whilst the PSNI and British Government seem prepared to sit back and allow the UDA to intimidate news-agents not to sell the Sunday World, the latest ABC circulation figures for Ireland show ordinary folk had other ideas. They showed the thugs what they thought of their so called 'boycott' in the only way they could, by buying a copy of the Sunday World. The paper's circulation is up 7.5 percent in the north.









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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
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Index: Current Articles

27 September 2005

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Wish List for Unionist Leadership
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Sunday World vs. Thugs
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How the Poor Live and Die
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Facing the Truth About the North
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Mowlam and the Status Quo
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Exports for the North Mean Exploitation for the South
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'Send in the Clowns!'
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