20. THE OTHER "OTHER FACE" OF THE IRA

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) may not be the vicious, cruel, destructive, underground terrorist organization some people believe it to be. The American Irish Unity Committee (AIUC), headquartered in New York, challenges what it calls the biased view of the U.S. media toward the IRA. Following are some brief examples of media bias and omission cited by the AIUC:

On October 4, 1981, 60 Minutes aired a segment titled "The Other Face of the IRA," which contained many falsehoods according to the AIUC. Prime among them was the CBS emphasis on the IRA - "Qaddafi connection" and on Libyan and Soviet Arms. The AIUC says that a secret British intelligence document (secured by the AIUC) states there is no evidence of either Libyan or Soviet assistance to the IRA. CBS stands by its story, saying it was fair and accurate.

In 1982, the AIUC complained to the National News Council (NNC) about a reportedly inaccurate quote in the New York Times. The same quote was reprinted twice after Raymond Quinn, AIUC publicist, informed the Times of the inaccuracy. The NNC, in a vote of 11 to 3, upheld the complaint; the Times printed no correction.

On February 9, 1983, in concluding a piece on the disappearance of the Irish racehorse, Shirgar, NBC's Roger Mudd, almost gratuitously, said "In the past the Irish Republican Army has used kidnapping for ransom to raise money." Again, the AIUC quotes from a British intelligence document which says that kidnapping "forms no part of traditional IRA tactics." Mudd said he passed the AIUC complaint "on to the, NY Editor." As of this writing, no more was heard from NBC.

Starting February 28, 1983, the AIUC sponsored a television commercial dealing with what it called England's continued violation of human rights in the North of Ireland. Shown on Cable News Network (CNN), it was reported to be the first "advocacy advertisement" shown nationally on commercially in the U.S. AIUC reported that this "first" received widespread coverage in the British press but no national coverage in the U.S.

Finally, Alfred McClung Lee, an eminent sociologist and former president of the American Sociological Association, charged media deception in his scholarly article "The Dynamics of Terrorism in Northern Ireland" which appeared-in Social Research. McClung Lee said that reports on the IRA in America are merely rewrites of British handouts' and cites censorship of stories such as the 1977 Amnesty International report on violation of basic civil rights of prisoners and/or suspects.

SOURCES:

Social Research, Spring 1981, "The Dynamics of Terrorism in Northern Ireland, 1968-1980," by Alfred McClung Lee; correspondence (with documentation) from Raymond Quinn, publicist, American Irish Unity Committee, 1982/1983.