Belfast Telegraph

I'm Irish too you know: UTV's Paul Clark hits back in Gaelic after SF man's soldiers jibe

By Jonathan Bell

UTV anchorman Paul Clark hit back in Irish after Sinn Fein's Niall O Donnghaile criticised him for referring to British soldiers as "ours".

The broadcaster has been covering the Royal Irish Regiment and the 38th (Irish) Brigade's tours in Afghanistan in a series across the week on UTV Live.

"How do our soldiers stay sharp," he tweeted in promoting his second report on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein politician Niall O Donnghaile was quick to respond.

"Paul ain't speaking for me and many, many other UTV viewers when he uses the term 'our'," the former Lord Mayor of Belfast and now member of the Irish Senate said.

Broadcaster Clark came back, in Gaelic, to fellow Irish speaker O Donnghaile.

"Don't tell me you disown Irish men from Cork, Galway, Tipperary and Dublin. I'm Irish too you know," he responded adding that those in the battlefield were both friends in Afghanistan and at home in Ireland.

Mr O Donnghaile said that while he understood that, it was important a distinction was made, adding: "Many have no truck with their escapades.

"It is not right that the British army is in Ireland or in Afghanistan either."

It ended with the two agreeing to disagree and Paul offering to buy the south Belfast man O Donnghaile a cup of tea.

"It's good to talk," said O Donnghaile, "always," said Clark.

Veteran broadcaster Clark has been at the forefront of news reporting in Northern Ireland and further afield for the past four decades. He was brought up a Catholic but attends Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast. He has in the past spoken of how, though he considers himself deeply religious, he rejects the Protestant and Catholic labels to describe himself.

Paul tweet
The tweets

He has also been quoted as saying he happily sees himself as being both British and Irish and loves to speak in Irish while holidaying in Donegal.

He has often covered the movements of the military, both in Ireland and abroad and indeed his great uncle Donald fought in the First World War.

A spokeswoman for UTV added: “Paul Clark and Niall O Donnghaile had a healthy debate on Twitter last night, which ended amicably. 

"UTV Live at six is running a series of news reports this week from Afghanistan featuring the Royal Irish Regiment who are part of a worldwide NATO presence in the region.

"This is Paul’s second visit and his reports give an insight into the regiment’s role and activities which feature soldiers who come from all over Ireland.”

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