3 June 2004 Edition

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Planned nationalist daily hits legal setback


A proposed new daily paper announced by the Andersonstown News Group last week ran into difficulties a day after its launch when its working title, Ireland Today, was challenged by Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Last Friday, Dublin's High Court granted News (UK) Ltd, a part of Murdoch's worldwide News Corporation, leave to seek an injunction curtailing the promotion and distribution of a newspaper in the 26 Counties under the proposed title. In court, News UK claimed they exclusively owned the Ireland Today title.

"Clearly, if the newspaper is to be launched and promoted some time later this year under the Ireland Today title, it will be an acute violation of our trademark rights," said Brian O'Moore, a lawyer acting on behalf of News UK.

News International Ltd, a subsidiary of News UK Ltd, publishes The Times, Sunday Times, The News of the World and The Sun. Both companies are part of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's global empire but the Andersonstown News Group remains undaunted.

"We knew the opposition to Ireland's first daily paper to promote a United Ireland agenda would be fierce but we didn't think the big guns would be wheeled out even before we hit the streets," said Andersonstown News managing director, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.

"Murdoch is used to having his own way, but is he familiar with the story of David and Goliath? We remain determined to create a vibrant and dynamic daily newspaper which will boost the peace building process, regardless of what name it goes under."

The Andersonstown News Group had on Thursday announced its plans to launch a new daily newspaper, "which will be pro-United Ireland and cross-border" with the working title, Ireland Today.

Political, community and trade union representatives attended a prestigious launch of the project at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. It is hoped that the new daily will be on the news stands before the end of this year and its promoters include former GAA President Peter Quinn and Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White.

Extending his support, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams wished the project every success and said the proposal reflected the growing confidence of nationalist Ireland. The project was also welcomed by the West Belfast Partnership Board chairperson Gerry Carson and union leader Inez McCormack.

Announcing the proposal, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said the group hoped that the proposed daily would "help sustain and build the pro-nationalist community in the northern counties of Ireland.

"The increasingly self-confident constituency to be targeted by Ireland Today is emerging from a traumatic period of conflict, yet it has no daily newspaper which gives voice to its concerns and views," said Ó Muilleoir. The establishment of such a daily would be "an essential ingredient in building peace.

"Our market research, analysis and surveying shows that there exists a real window of opportunity for the provision of a strongly nationalist daily newspaper," said Ó Muilleoir. Advertising spent in newspapers in the north alone last year was in the region of £70 million.

"We need only to take a small amount of that pie and win a share of the southern advertising spend to create over 40 jobs in the heart of one of Belfast's traditional economic black spots," said Ó Muilleoir.

The Andersonstown News Group already successfully publishes the Andersonstown News, North Belfast News, South Belfast News and the daily Irish Language paper Lá. It is also involved in two Dublin papers and prints a paper in South Armagh.

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