Northern Ireland Editor of the Belfast Telegraph & Sunday Independent. Author of Burned: The Inside Story of the Cash-for-Ash Scandal. Any views mine alone.

Belfast
Joined January 2012
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"We were grand like then all of a sudden he started going all slumpy."
An extraordinary interview with the man who brought his dead uncle into a Carlow post office to collect his pension belfastlive.co.uk/news/north…
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Carl Bernstein's description here of the first moment he stepped into a newspaper newsroom as a 16-year-old is utterly glorious: "The most purposeful commotion" involving furious work to get the right words on the page, alongside the physicality of the thundering presses.
As a newspaperman, what is it like to turn the focus inwards, and write your own story? Watergate journalist @carlbernstein tells @AnneMcElvoy about his new autobiographical book “Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom”, on “The Economist Asks” podcast econ.trib.al/vip3WfC
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Replying to @realLangerDan
Journalists suspect illegality or bad behaviour all the time & investigate it. But suspicion without proof is not the basis for a news report - for good journalistic reason. But even if one were a bad journalist NI's unreformed libel laws are a pretty robust deterrent.
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I was told last summer that the NIO would have a plan to help Jeffrey Donaldson on double-jobbing. The defence Donaldson & Brandon Lewis have given for what has unfolded has a big hole. But being close to power holds risks as well as benefits for the DUP. independent.ie/opinion/comme…
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Several people are (not unreasonably) suggesting it's odd for me not to report until now what I was told last summer, so let me explain: I was told this off the record by a single second-hand source. Without more evidence, that is not the basis for a news story. 1/2
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When told, I had no proof this was happening - & frankly was sceptical it would, given how extraordinary it sounded. But all that changed in recent days when the Government proposed changing the law. Now that has happened, I've reported it because it is far more credible. 2/2
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There was a time when the NIO coming to Jeffrey Donaldson’s aid - as it tried to do last week - would have been unthinkable. But a closer inspection of his career tells another story. Declassified files reveal latent pragmatism even when he seemed hardline.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opini…
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Thanks for your kind words, Brendan.
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Thanks, Andrew. As made clear in the copy, I was told this off the record by a single second-hand source. At the time, I had no proof this was happening & frankly was sceptical it would, given how extraordinary it sounded. As soon as it did happen, I've reported it.
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Replying to @KeithKeith80
Thanks - lots of other good reasons!
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Sam McBride retweeted
Tomorrow’s Sunday Independent NI edition: - Bloody Sunday 50 years on - Huge rise in reports of sex attacks on women - Why DUP MP Ian Paisley paid back more than £4,000 of his Westminster expenses last year - And great columns from @mairiac31 and @SJAMcBride
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If you want to understand Sue Gray, you need to study her time in Northern Ireland. Everyone knows the story about the pub, but that’s not the key to understanding how this powerful & secretive figure operates and how she will investigate Boris Johnson. belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opini…
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Replying to @bookingaround
Thanks for your kind words. Spoiler alert: In the two and a half years since that was written, some things have changed for the better - but others have got worse and most of the fundamental problems which encouraged & exacerbated cash for ash remain unaltered.
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The enigmatic Sue Gray has spent two significant - and highly unorthodox - spells in Northern Ireland. Those periods showed her skill but revealed a flaw which could undermine the credibility of her inquiry into Boris Johnson. belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opini…
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Sam McBride retweeted
EXCLUSIVE: Almost two-thirds of unionists want DUP to crash Stormont if protocol isn’t scrapped, @LucidTalk poll for @beltel shows. Some 98% of TUV, 81% of DUP but just 28% of UUP voters want to see the Executive collapse if the protocol isn’t axed. belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/…
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Sam McBride retweeted
EXCLUSIVE: @LucidTalk poll for @BelTel 🔷SF still on course to be biggest Stormont party as its lead widens & DUP support drops 🔷SF 25% (+1 from Nov) 🔷DUP 17% (-1) 🔷UUP 14% (-) 🔷Alliance 14% (-1) 🔷TUV 12% (+1) 🔷SDLP 11% (-1) belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/…
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Sam McBride retweeted
4 great job opportunities…
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Sam McBride retweeted
In tomorrows @BelTel 1972: Northern Ireland's Darkest Year 📷The grim reality of the troubles in pics. + ✏️ @malodoherty looks back 50 years on 🗳️ Our latest @LucidTalk political opinion poll 📰@SJAMcBride's unmissable weekly column ✈️@niamh_journo's 10 travel trends for 2022
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Replying to @KeithBaker12
Surely it's just a US-based news organisations using American English in its style guide, as the NYT would do?
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This fascinating profile of Sue Gray contains the claim that it was Sinn Féin which blocked her appointment as Head of the NI Civil Service. That's intriguing because as SF Finance Minister Conor Murphy's top official she appeared to bat doggedly for him on several occasions.
NEW: “Her nickname is ‘Sue Gray area’ because everything she does is so murky,” said a former adviser. “There’s never any paper trail. There’s never any record.” Colleagues past and present on the inquisitor whose word Westminster anxiously awaits: politico.eu/article/sue-gray…
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