Hard ball interviews are vastly over rated in political journalism. A good example of the fruits of a ‘slow ball’ delivery is David McKittrick’s interview in today’s London Independent with Martin McGuinness. In particular this section:
The conflict in the city was bitter, he says, with a lot of people killed on all sides. “I lost a lot of friends at the hands of the British Army,” he says. “The person who actually introduced me to my wife, Colm Keenan, was murdered by the British Army. He was a member of the IRA but he was unarmed.”
The word “murdered” – would he apply it to anything the IRA did? This is a question that – when asked of IRA and Sinn Fein people – generally draws a flat rejection that any IRA action could be branded as murder. But from Mr McGuinness it produces a less combative response, and one that some in Ireland may see as a departure.
“The IRA were involved in quite a number of incidents which resulted in the accidental killing of innocent people and the term used by the relatives of those people who were killed was that they were murdered,” he says. “I wouldn’t disagree with that. I’m not going to disagree with their analysis of what happened to their loved ones.”
Is that the same as saying the IRA carried out murders? “It’s the same as saying that I accept that, in the circumstances where innocent people lost their lives, then it’s quite legitimate for the term murder to be used.”
That is, as McKittrick urbanely suggests quite a departure from past stances, and is bound to draw out further questions about who is or was innocent, and therefore murdered, and which of those killed were legitimate targets. It might explain Charlie Flanagan’s attempt to focus on the IRA’s killing of Gardai during and after the Troubles this morning on Morning Ireland.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty