- 06 Oct 17
MARTIN DILLON has just released a fascinating new memoir, Crossing The Line: Life On The Edge. The Belfast-born investigative journalist talks about exposing State collusion during the Troubles, his brushes with death, upsetting Ted Heath and befriending Van Morrison.
“There is no alternative to good journalism,” Martin Dillion reflects, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme the day after I interview him in Dublin. He’s there to promote his new memoir, Crossing The Line: My Life on the Edge. As it happens he’s also the man who launched Talkback – a radio programme which broke the normal rules of broadcasting – over 31 years ago.
The very idea of letting the public air their opinions and grievances on the British Broadcasting Corporation, in Northern Ireland, during the height of the Troubles, surely seemed like absolute lunacy at the time. And yet Talkback thrived off its own, democratic melting pot of views. Experts talk on air about the minute details of reaching political agreement, while John from Carrickfergus phone in to discuss transatlantic nuclear war…
Scanning the Talkback Twitter feed it’s clear that Martin’s appearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by his detractors. In 140 character bursts, he’s accused of being an opportunistic seller of books; an unrepentant liar (apparently republicans and loyalists are united on that point); and, even more intriguingly, an undercover MI5 agent. I imagine that if Martin ever read what was written about him online, he’d chuckle, knowing that it’s a lot easier to disregard keyboard warriors than it is the real death threats he received in the ‘90s.