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20 January 2005 Edition

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The rantings of McDowell

26-County Justice Minister Michael McDowell probably didn't expect any adverse reaction to one of his most frenzied anti-republican outbursts to date, when he posted it on his department's website last Thursday.

The publicity-seeking minister, in the course of a lengthy anti-republican rant aimed at the next day's papers, accused the country's newest daily paper, Daily Ireland, of being akin to Nazi propaganda.

The basis for this typically vitriolic broadside was an article in this newspaper covering the imminent arrival of the new daily. And all this before the first issue of the new nationalist daily has even hit the newsstands.

But then McDowell's views on free speech and dissent are obvious in his complaint about the "small minority in the media who pander to the Provisional agenda".

His comments smack of the climate of censorship and fear generated during the Section 31 years.

Now Daily Ireland is seeking legal advice on his comments and the National Union of Journalists has accused him of endangering the lives of the paper's staff, who have already received death threats from unionist death squads.

Michael McDowell has never displayed any objectivity when it comes to republicanism, or much else for that matter.

But in seeking over the past week to use his position as minister to rail against dissenting views in the media, he has overplayed his hand.

An Phoblacht
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