A Mayo journalist who writes a regular column in a Northern Ireland newspaper has been the focus of a number of letters of opposition from Unionist leaders in recent weeks asking for her column to be removed.
Mary Lynch, who features in the Mayo Advertiser’s Shooting the Breeze column this week, has raised the hackles of Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott who is calling for her column to be removed from Fermanagh’s Impartial Reporter newspaper.
Other letters have been sent to the paper by Ulster Unionist councillor Alex Baird and the Co Fermanagh Orange Order. Cllr Baird, in a letter to the editor, accused Ms Lynch of espousing a “romanticised view of Republicanism” which he found “deeply offensive” and he called on the paper to remove her column as soon as possible.
Ms Lynch’s column, entitled Real Stories, focuses on victims of all kinds of abuse both sides of the border, and one such column appeared in the Mayo Advertiser two weeks ago outlining the harrowing story of a Mayo victim of clerical abuse. The woman in question received a letter of support from Taoiseach Enda Kenny after he read her story in the Mayo Advertiser.
The editor of The Impartial Reporter, Denzil McDaniel, has backed up Ms Lynch and said calls for the removal of her column from his newspaper amounted to censorship and were an “affront to the right of freedom of expression”. He said he had no intention of removing the columns which gave a voice to people who otherwise would not have a voice.
Ms Lynch, who is a sister of Sinn Féin assembly member Sean Lynch, a former IRA prisoner, and sister of Ruth Lynch, a Sinn Féin representative on Fermanagh District Council, now resides near Foxford, where her house of peacefulness (Ti Suaimhnis ) offers a retreat for those searching for peace following a traumatic life experience.
She also wrote the book The Long Road Home about the trauma she suffered as a result of The Troubles in the North.