Categories
Crime Media

New Journalism, Old Journalism and Downright Bad Journalism – Paul Williams Flogging the Limerick Horse to Death

If you’re not from Limerick, you might have overlooked the fact that Paul Williams is promoting his latest, latest book about certain criminals in Limerick.  That’s as opposed to his previous latest book about Limerick criminals and his earlier latest book about Limerick crime.

Oh no, what am I saying?  Of course you didn’t miss it, since the Late Late Show saw fit to give Williams a slot promoting his latest book about a bunch of has-been scumbags who are now all in jail.  His latest book in which, yet again, he’s the central, fearless character, a journalist of integrity and guts who won’t back down.  Walter Mitty, in other words.

For clarification, Limerick is a small city where nobody at all was murdered this year, unlike Dublin, where RTE is based and where people seem to be going down in a hail of lead,  like  every day is Valentine’s Day, but just like Frenchmen with strings of onions, the useful stereotype of Limerick crime makes it easy for the Mittys of Irish journalism world to churn out a handy potboiler for the Christmas market.  And it didn’t help that Williams saw fit to patronise us on the Late Late with his handy old guff about the majority of Limerick people being decent.  Thanks for the condescending pat on the head, Paul, but I’d rather get scabies, if you don’t mind.

Williams has titled his latest book Murder Inc, which is a nickname nobody in particular gave to the gang of scumbags except in his imagination, but which should alert any discerning observer to the journalistic standards employed.

Paul WIlliams O'Mahonys bookshop Limerick
Now, as it happened, O’Mahony’s Booksellers, a long-established and well-respected Limerick establishment, saw fit to host a book signing for Williams last Saturday, at which 300 people turned up to buy his latest, latest fearless exposé of the dark underbelly of Limerick crime.  I don’t know if 300 is a large number for a book signing or a small number, but at least one of those people, Jimi Kavanagh, bought a copy of the book to present it back to Paul Williams and point out to him what a cynical hack he is for endlessly recycling the same story.  This is how he imagined Williams’s reaction in print.

I was verbally assaulted by a tall man wearing a black coat. As he loomed over me, I felt genuinely threatened. With only three plainclothes gardai within reach, I thought it was the end. Here in gangland, I couldn’t be sure if he was affiliated with one of the many Ganglords (such as the Gibbon, Fingers McPhee, or Slaughterdoggy) I’d put in prison during my time. All I knew was that I had to act fast.

I realised that the man in black (or as the press have now nicknamed him, The Lurking Ranter) was connected to a group of similarly vicious and heartless men, each equally willing to assassinate my character through social media, hiding behind their various aliases. I decided to investigate further.

To my utter amazement, I found that this cabal of devious and cowardly commentators were spending their time talking about me, crime correspondent and keyboard superhero Paul Williams. Were they planning to murder me as I slept? Were they involved in the drug trade? Did they have any ties to human trafficking in SE Asia? I couldn’t say one way or another.

I assumed the Lurking Ranter was about to make his final, deadly move, when fortunately he shook my hand and departed, leaving only a copy of my book I had signed for myself as some sort of veiled threat. It’s people like him that give the good coin-spinning bookmerchants of Limerick (or as it’s now known in the press, “Limerick”) a bad name. Fortunately I had my publishing friends on hand, or the whole incident would undoubtedly have ended in another brutal act of violence on the streets of the city of fear and terror, not to mention censorship of me, Crime Journalist and professional TruthySayingMaker Paul Williams.

Ah no.  Paul Williams would never write that sort of dross.

Would he?

On social media, there was a bit of an outcry, or to put it another way, several people pointed out to the bookshop that it was an ill-judged move to facilitate the signing event, and in due course, the proprietor issued a reply, through his staff because he personally never uses social media.

The document is as evasive as it is defensive.

It fails to acknowledge most of the concerns raised, preferring to characterise those who complained as part of a small percentage of people who are offended by the contents of the book.  By reacting in this way, it reveals a failure to grasp the central point, which is that people were not offended, and didn’t complain about being offended.  They were angered that people like Williams continues to peddle and reinvigorate a story that was hyped by people like him in the first place, for personal gain.  Nobody denies that a vile crowd of thugs for a time held sway in certain disadvantaged and marginalised areas of the city, but the objections were not about reporting this fact.  The objections, which Frank O’Mahony singularly failed to understand were against people like Paul Williams falling back on a tired old story, re-awakening an image that we all worked so hard to put behind us during the City of Culture year.

Frank’s letter was issued, via his staff, in the form of an image, but I’ve taken the trouble to transcribe it.  Any errors or omissions are entirely my fault.

Here it is.

11 November 2014

Well, the Paul William’s (sic) visit has stirred up quite a lot more comments than most author visits, so I would like to make a few general points on behalf of the company, respond to some items and finally give my personal opinion.

As a company we go out of our way to support Irish authors. We would also resist all forms of censorship on the written word and assert the right of authors to publish and publicise their books however much we may disagree with their content or the views they espouse. A slippery slope beckons if we were to go down this road – we stock over 200,000 books and there will always be a small percentage of people who are (or could be) offended by the contents of some of them.

There is a genuine question about whether such a book damages the reputation of Limerick. To me, it is the definitive story of a terrible few years in Limerick’s history – let the story be told in a way that does not glorify the wrongdoers, let us learn from that and then move on swiftly towards building a better city. As a company O’Mahony’s Booksellers have been involved in the commercial life of Limerick City since 1902 and many family members have been involved in promoting the city in various social and commercial areas over the years – this year in particular we have had many events and window displays associated with limerick City of CUlture. I think you can take it for granted that we would never do anything to deliberately hurt Limerick’s reputation.

We have had some adverse reaction on social media sites and we respect those opinions. We also have to respect the opinions of over 300 people who came out to meet him. Also, it was very evident from the large number of Gardai whoo turned up for the event and paid to have books signed that the author is held in very high esteem by mny members of an Garda Síochána.

Also, can you imagine the field day the media would have if we refused to stock the book?

Personally, I think Paul Williams went out of his way on the “Late Late Show” to express both his revulsion to the thugs and criminals who have blighted Limerick’s reputation for the last 15-odd years and also his admiration for Limerick as a city and its citizens.

My last words to Paul Williams were “Paul – let’s hope that’s the final chapter and you never have to write a book about Limerick crime again”.

Frank O’Mahony

 

This is my analysis in response.

Frank’s reply

Comment

11 November 2014

Well, the Paul William’s (sic) visit has stirred up quite a lot more comments than most author visits, so I would like to make a few general points on behalf of the company, respond to some items and finally give my personal opinion.

 

Fair enough

As a company we go out of our way to support Irish authors.

 

Well done.

We would also resist all forms of censorship on the written word and assert the right of authors to publish and publicise their books however much we may disagree with their content or the views they espouse.

 

Nobody suggested that Paul Williams’s book should be censored. Nobody suggested he should be prevented from publicising it.

The issue is about O’Mahony’s assisting him in publicising it.

 

A slippery slope beckons if we were to go down this road – we stock over 200,000 books and there will always be a small percentage of people who are (or could be) offended by the contents of some of them.

 

Slippery slope: a logical fallacy in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any rational argument or demonstrable mechanism for the inevitability of the event in question

 

What exactly is a small percentage of people?

How did Frank determine that only a small percentage of people were angered (as opposed to offended)?

How did Frank determine that it was the contents of the book that caused annoyance as opposed to the continued cynical manipulation of Limerick’s good name for personal gain?

Can opinions be safely dismissed if you decide that only a small percentage of people hold them?

 

There is a genuine question about whether such a book damages the reputation of Limerick.

 

There is indeed, Frank.

 

To me, it is the definitive story of a terrible few years in Limerick’s history – let the story be told in a way that does not glorify the wrongdoers, let us learn from that and then move on swiftly towards building a better city.

 

The story was already told, over and over by Paul Williams and countless other hacks. We’d like to move on swiftly as Frank suggests, but every time we try, another ludicrous recycling of the same old story pops up and we have to begin again rolling the stone up the hill.

 

As a company O’Mahony’s Booksellers have been involved in the commercial life of Limerick City since 1902 and many family members have been involved in promoting the city in various social and commercial areas over the years – this year in particular we have had many events and window displays associated with limerick City of Culture.

Good for you. Well done. Congratulations.

 

I think you can take it for granted that we would never do anything to deliberately hurt Limerick’s reputation.

 

You just did, Frank, whether it was deliberate or not.

 

We have had some adverse reaction on social media sites and we respect those opinions.

 

Would that be the small percentage?

 

We also have to respect the opinions of over 300 people who came out to meet him.

 

Of course you do.

Also, it was very evident from the large number of Gardai who turned up for the event and paid to have books signed that the author is held in very high esteem by mny members of an Garda Síochána.

 

How many Gardai turned up for the event? “Large number” is too vague.

Paul Williams has for years been a useful conduit for Garda leaks. This is his modus operandi. The Guards throw him titbits and in return he writes the stories they want him to write. It would be very surprising if they didn’t support him.

 

 

Also, can you imagine the field day the media would have if we refused to stock the book?

 

Whatever about stocking the book, can you imagine the respect you would have gained if you had taken a principled decision not to hold that book-signing event?

 

Personally, I think Paul Williams went out of his way on the “Late Late Show” to express both his revulsion to the thugs and criminals who have blighted Limerick’s reputation for the last 15-odd years and also his admiration for Limerick as a city and its citizens.

He went out of his way to patronise us while bolstering his own self-image as the fearless nemesis of criminals and drug dealers.

 

My last words to Paul Williams were “Paul – let’s hope that’s the final chapter and you never have to write a book about Limerick crime again”.

 

He didn’t have to write it, Frank. That’s the whole point.

Categories
Limerick

Limerick On A Beautiful Day

What a lovely morning.  What an utterly lovely start to the day, with blue skies and all the little birds threatening each other in song.  Not that you’d know it if you were listening to Radio RTEland, which informed the nation that we’d all be better off in bed because it was raining outside.

Outside their studio in Dublin.  Or outside their house, also in Dublin.  Or outside their car, on the way from their house, in Dublin to their studio in Dublin, but that’s the national broadcaster for you.  Meanwhile, here in Limerick, the weather was mild-to-warm with sunshine, but of course none of that matters in Medialand.

I got into the market a little late today due to a wild goose chase that should remain in the shadows, but when I finally made it, the rewards were great.

Very often on Saturday mornings, it’s nice to meet up with friends in nearby Nancy Blakes and have a coffee, but first, of course, it’s essential to pick up some delicious buns or cakes at one of the market stalls.

Limerick Milk Market 051

 

Yummy.

But of course, you can’t walk through the market without being accosted by vendors selling other delicious fare, which is why not one, but two Turkish chaps stopped me.  The lad with this stall sold me a really tasty pastry sort of thing made with Feta and vegetables, Baklava, he called it.  As I left the Big Top, another Turkish man handed me a delicious lamb sausage and I guarantee you, I’ll be back to him next week, but with photos and lots of lip-smacking.

Limerick Milk Market

 

On the way between one Turkish man and the next Turkish man, I met this charming lady selling Clangers, though I don’t believe for one second her story of how they got their name.

Limerick Milk Market

It’s another sort of pastry thing, with a sweet filling at one end and a meat filling at the other, though there is a vegetarian option for vegetarians and for people trying to convince themselves that they’re vegetarians, and for other people who think it will make them healthier, and why wouldn’t they?

The idea is a lot like the Cornish Pasty, except that it didn’t originate in the tin mines.  It’s actually from Bedfordshire and you don’t throw away the crust.  But apart from that, it’s the same.  I got a sample and it was delicious.

All that before I ever get my nice cup of tea, which will be flung in my face unless I present a nice cake to the terrifying German barman.  I’m no fool, though, and so I have my delicious little confection tucked away here, ready to present in return for a nice cup of tea.

Hello.  I would like a nice cup of tea, please.

You will do as I say.  We own you.

Have a bun.

Oh thanks.  Would you like a nice cup of tea?

It’s great.  It’s all good.  I pass a happy thirty minutes among witty raconteurs and the weather remains good, apart from the cloud hanging over me.  I forgot to pay the electricity bill and they sent me a snotty letter, so I’d better stroll down to the Post Office and pay it.

Before leaving, I bump into a New Zealand friend.   A rugby-playing Maori cannibal type.  What do you reckon our chances are of beating South Africa?

Pretty good, he says, to my surprise, me being of  little faith.

You reckon?

I rickon,  he nods.

I bid my friends a good day and wander off, still enjoying the indescribable mildness of being, until I come to O’Mahony’s bookshop, a place of iconic significance to me.  This is the place where, as a teenager, I bought most of the books that made me who I am today, and therefore it’s almost a place of pilgrimage.

And there, in my place of pilgrimage, is the man who single-handedly, though temporarily,  convinced me that journalism is dead.  There, signing his latest book, is Paul Williams, a man whose access to hard information about criminals is in direct proportion to his usefulness to his Garda handlers.  There he is, in a bookshop in Limerick, signing copies of his latest book about crime in Limerick, even though the lowlifes he writes about are all in jail, and even though he has not the slightest access to facts about life in our town.

Paul WIlliams

I pause in mild surprise , but then I notice the title of his book: Murder Inc. This, according to Paul Williams is the nickname given to the small family of useless morons who, for a while, sold drugs in this town.  Who gave them this imaginary  nickname?  Nobody in Limerick, or anywhere else, except in Paul Williams’s imagination.  Limerick people just called them what they are: scumbags.

It was such a nice day up to that point.  What a shame that Paul Williams, a man who knows nothing about Limerick, should be milking an old story to death, and what a worse shame that Limerick people might be lining up to buy his book and solicit his X on the flyleaf.

What a further shame that Limerick.ie should slavishly and moronically repeat his blurb in their What’s On section.  I see that they’ve taken it down following complaints, but here it is anyway.

paul williams blurb limerickie

 

This is a website paid for by our local taxes and managed by employees of our local authority.  Ponder that for a minute or two.  Promoting a self-publicising fantasist who has done as much as any man to tarnish the reputation of our town by talking up the activities of a small gang of scumbags for his own personal glorification.

Is that what we pay for?

Anyway, the gloom didn’t last long.  Paul Williams is far too small a man to take up my whole  day, there was a rugby match to see, and besides, it was quite a thing to see him pulling copies of the book out of his arse as easily as he pulls facts.  He should charge for that.

Finally, let me confess that I didn’t really expect Ireland to beat South Africa but the cannibal was right, as usual.

Yay!  Take that, South Africa!  And take that, Paul Williams, when you’ve finished fiddling with your orifice.