Daily Ireland

McDowell faces legal action

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell is set to face legal action after refusing to withdraw defamatory remarks made about Daily Ireland in media interviews over the past month.
Managing Director of the Andersonstown News Group, the major backer of the Daily Ireland venture, Mairtín Ó Muilleoir along with company director Robin Livingstone and investor Peter Quinn, instructed their legal team to launch libel proceedings against the government minister yesterday.
The development comes after Mr McDowell made claims of “facism and illegality” against the new all-Ireland daily paper.
Mr Ó Muilleoir last night branded the claims “rubbish, defamatory and dangerous”.
“Daily Ireland is a totally legitimate project, pioneered by the Andersonstown News Group, which is being subject to unsubstantiated and scandalous allegations in an attempt to put it out of business,” he said. “The Andersonstown News Group has been in business in Belfast for 33 years. The Group now employs 100 people, is an Invest NI client, holds the Fás Excellence Through People accreditation, which was presented by Mary Harney TD, and is audited by PwC.
“Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen has addressed our annual awards night, as has President McAleese. We have attracted a wide investor base for Daily Ireland in Ireland and in the US and have remained totally compliant at all times with Financial Services regulations in all jurisdictions.
“The majority of the funding for the new venture is coming from the Andersonstown News Group, via Bank of Ireland.”
Mr Ó Muilleoir said the minister’s comments were an “assault on freedom”.
“From the start, we have said that Daily Ireland would be anti-violence and pro-peace process and would not be a mouthpiece for anyone.
“Minister McDowell is unwilling to tolerate a newspaper which has a different take on the peace process. In no other European country would this assault on freedom of the press by a justice minister be tolerated.
“Readers should read the paper in print or at dailyireland.com and make their own minds up. We will robustly defend our reputation for business probity in all our affairs.”
Seamus Dooley from the National Union of Journalists said he was concerned for the welfare of Daily Ireland staff in the wake of the minister’s comments.
“We remain concerned that the minister insists on targeting Daily Ireland,” said Mr Dooley. “And we believe that by linking the newspaper and terrorism he is in danger of putting the lives of working journalists in danger. In the heated atmosphere of the current political climate in Northern Ireland there is a danger that Daily Ireland journalists may be seen as fair game. We believe that the minister should withdraw the nasty slur.
“The minister is entitled to disagree with the editorial line taken by Daily Ireland but that does not mean he is entitled to attack the integrity of the editor or journalists. He seems to favour a return to the Section 31 mentality that would lead to the censoring of opinions. “Michael McDowell is a believer in the free market yet he seems to have a real difficulty with the expression of opinions. He does not agree with the free market of ideas which is the newspaper industry.”
The Department of Justice in Dublic declined to comment when contacted.

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