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Excuse Me, Can I Speak to the Editor?
In his first major interview, Aengus Fanning, editor of the Sunday Independent, discusses how he manages the most successful paper in Ireland and the death of Veronica Guerin.
Jason O'Toole, 04 Nov 2008
Some of the articles on Hume – particularly those written by Eamon Dunphy – were vicious. He got very personal in his attacks. Surely that was wrong?
He did but I’m not saying it was wrong – it was the way he chose to do it. He felt very strongly about it at the time. We were all concerned about entering into negotiations with the IRA and also the idea that we must have peace at any price. Eamon did that in his own unique and individual style. He was one of our top contributors at the time and I stand behind him in what he said. Even though I was broadly critical of talks with the IRA, I mightn’t have agreed with him to that extent but it’s not really the job of an editor to censor his contributors, as far as is at all possible. It’s an old fashioned idea of liberalism, one that, strangely, many journalists appear not to understand. It’s one of the critical distinctions between being a journalist and an editor. It was Eamon’s take on it and it was a powerful, passionate and brilliantly articulated take. The Peace Process was the right thing to do but it was important that it should be held up to scrutiny. There was a kind of groundswell of almost a collaboration between politicians and media to get behind it – and any criticism was dismissed as unhelpful. I don’t think that’s the role newspapers should play. We had individual writers, such as Eamon Dunphy, John A. Murphy and Shane Ross and others who were highly critical of it. Broadly, I would have more or less agreed with them, but not all the time. I was probably slightly greener than they were!
Eamon was also very insulting towards Pat Kenny in his column – even going as far as to call him a “plank” at one stage. Surely this is wrong?
Eamon Dunphy’s articles were brilliant polemic and blistering journalistic pieces, which were compulsively readable. Kenny was amongst those he criticised – along with the likes of Dick Spring and Mary Robinson and others – in his passionate journalism.