Few who have followed the role of the Irish government in the current peace process would deny that the role has been an essential and, overall, a progressive one. However, more recently an alarming tendency has emerged in relation to how Dublin views the reporting of the peace process.
Last week, an Irish newspaper reported that "government ministers and officials in Dublin" were "increasingly concerned at what they see as the operation of a carefully planned and highly coordinated" effort to spread "disinformation." Its aim being to "destabilize the peace process by destroying whatever element of trust exists between the pro-agreement parties."
One of the three examples of disinformation cited was a report in the Irish Echo last week on a disagreement between the British and Irish governments over whether the U.S. State Department should be advised to include the Real IRA on its list of illegal terrorist organizations.
It is one thing to refute a report by denying it is true. It is quite another to allege that it is part of a conspiracy against the peace process.
The Echo’s report was written after officials in London, Belfast, Washington and Dublin were quizzed. It was not the result of a conspiracy.
The dispute over the status of the Real IRA in the U.S. is one about which reasonable people can disagree. But to suggest that it is being reported as the result of a conspiracy is a clumsy attempt to avoid addressing the issue by trying to undermine the credibility of those who reported it.
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Perhaps what really lies behind this anxiety in Dublin is a desire to make sure that only the news that fits the spin gets in.