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Fleet Street's Greenslade tells why he backed IRA

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Contribution: Roy Greenslade wrote secretly for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht

Contribution: Roy Greenslade wrote secretly for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht

Contribution: Roy Greenslade wrote secretly for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht

A former news editor of The Sunday Times who secretly wrote for Sinn Fein newspaper An Phoblacht during the Troubles has explained why he supported the IRA's campaign.

British journalist Roy Greenslade, who now resides in Donegal and is a member of Sinn Fein, used the pseudonym George King when writing for the republican publication.

He stood surety for convicted IRA member John Downey following the Hyde Park bombing in 1982, which saw the deaths of four soldiers of the Blues and Royals and seven horses.

Writing in the British Journalism Review, Mr Greenslade said he decided to address the matter of his "covert political beliefs" because critics continued to make much of his "supposed 'exposure'" as George King.

He outlined that his political journey began in 1968 when he was a sub-editor on the Daily Mail in Manchester, coinciding with the outbreak of the Troubles.

"For a young man from London with zero knowledge of Ireland, including the fact that the country had been partitioned, events in the six northern counties made no sense," wrote Mr Greenslade. "I was not alone." During a tour of Belfast and Londonderry, Mr Greenslade said he was quickly convinced of the civil rights argument after seeing the Bogside and learning of the system of gerrymandering.

He later developed a close friendship with former Sinn Fein vice president and West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, before his "turning point" - Bloody Sunday.

Mr Greenslade went on to share his "outrage" over the way Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher handled the hunger strike.

"Above my desk, I put up a photo of the first of the 10 to die, Bobby Sands, and it has remained there ever since. I regard him as a hero, as I do all of them."

Despite being convinced by republicanism, he added: "That is not to say, however, that I was not appalled by the carnage."

On writing for An Phoblacht, Mr Greenslade said his contributions were irregular but shared his belief that Britain was "dragging its heels over the IRA's clear wish to make peace". "I do not regard it as dishonest to have written covertly in opposition to the editorial stance of the papers for which I have worked. It was sensible and pragmatic," he added.

Mr Greenslade declined to comment on his article.

Belfast Telegraph


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