Belfast Telegraph

It’s not Rose Neill and it’s not Moira Stuart... photo of mystery woman in green keeps them guessing

By Ivan Little

It's the 'who's that girl?' mystery that's got everybody talking.

But the puzzle over the identity of the woman in green on the cover of a new book about the Troubles still hasn't been resolved despite dozens of people weighing in with suggestions about who she is.

The response to appeals in the Belfast Telegraph earlier this week for readers to come up with a name for the female journalist has been remarkable, coming from people as far away as Canada and France.

The reporter in the photograph is seen conducting interviews on the Crumlin Road in Belfast after a bomb blast in 1972.

The picture was chosen for the book Reporting the Troubles by the publishers from a file of images from a major photographic agency, but there were no details about the journalist standing amid the wreckage.

As co-compiler of Reporting the Troubles, my colleague Deric Henderson and I consulted widely about the identity of the woman but to no avail. And it's been a matter of intense debate among readers since the book was released in September.

And ever since the story about the woman appeared in Tuesday's Belfast Telegraph I have been inundated with emails.

Among the most 'popular' suggestions have been Maggie Taggart and Maxine Mawhinney from the BBC and Rose Neill of UTV but they hadn't begun their journalistic careers in 1972.

Others including the editor of the Belfast Telegraph, Gail Walker hadn't even started school 46 years ago.

Another two names that have been put forward have been that of a more seasoned journalist Diane Harron who worked for the BBC locally and nationally and Eileen Magnier of RTE.

Two of the BBC's most famous national newsreaders have also had their names thrown into the mix.

But Jan Leeming and Moira Stuart aren't believed to have been front-line journalists.

Several people have suggested that the journalist may have been a foreign correspondent who was on a flying visit to Belfast, which would explain why so few people here have been able to recognise her.

Several emailers have given names which Henderson and I are trying to follow up on the internet.

Other emailers have said they think the journalist might be the late Irish writer Mary Holland.

On Twitter former Sinn Fein publicity director Danny Morrison has asked if the woman could be Mairin de Burca, a campaigning journalist and ex-general secretary of his party.

Unionist MLA and former UTV presenter Mike Nesbitt has questioned if the woman in the photo might actually be a police officer rather than a journalist.

And another reader said she thought the lady in green may have been holding a piece of debris rather than a microphone.

One emailer who couldn't give any clues about the woman was however able to supply more details about the bombing.

He said the device exploded in a stolen car parked outside the Crumlin cinema near where he worked on Saturday, May 27, 1972.

No one was killed but seven people were injured.

One of them was William Christie, later Sir William, who was the Lord Mayor designate of Belfast and who owned a wallpaper shop on the Crumlin Road.

Not everyone who has responded to the pleas for information has clearly taken the request seriously.

One man suggested that the woman in green was WD Flackes, the BBC's veteran (male) political correspondent.

Anyone with any more thoughts about the identity of the woman in green should email me at ivanlittle@live.com

Belfast Telegraph

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