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Kevin Myers

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Kevin Myers (born 30 March 1947) is an English-born Irish journalist and writer.[1] He has contributed to The Irish Times' column "An Irishman's Diary", the Irish Independent, and the Irish edition of the Sunday Times.[2]

Myers is known for his controversial views on a number of topics, including single mothers, aid for Africa and the Holocaust. In July 2017, The Sunday Times announced that Myers would no longer be writing for them following an article he wrote on the BBC gender pay gap, for which he was accused of antisemitism and misogyny.[3]

Biography

Myers was born in Leicester, and grew up in England.[1][4] His father, an Irish GP, died when Myers was 15 and away at Ratcliffe College, a Catholic boarding school.[5] His father's early death created financial difficulties, though Myers managed to stay at the school with the help of both the school and the Local Education Authority.[1] Myers moved to Ireland to go to university and graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) in 1969.[4] He subsequently worked as a journalist for Irish broadcaster RTÉ, and reported from Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles.[4]

Controversies

"Bastards" controversy

In 2005, he attracted considerable criticism for his column, "An Irishman's Diary", in which he referred to children of unmarried mothers as "bastards":

How many girls - and we’re largely talking about teenagers here - consciously embark upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accommodation from the State? Ah. You didn’t like the term bastard? No, I didn’t think you would.

— Kevin Myers, An Irishmans's Diary, The Irish Times, 8 February 2005[6]

Former Minister of State Nuala Fennell described the column as "particularly sad." She said the word "bastard" was an example of pejorative language that was totally unacceptable. Myers issued an unconditional apology two days later, "entirely at [his] own initiative". Then Irish Times editor, Geraldine Kennedy, also apologised for having agreed to publish the article.[7][8]

Aid to Africa

In July 2008, Myers wrote an article arguing that providing aid to Africa only results in increasing its population, and its problems.[9] This produced strong reactions, with the Immigrant Council of Ireland making an official complaint to the Garda Síochána alleging incitement to hatred.[10]

Hans Zomer of Dóchas, an association of NGOs, and another complainant, took a complaint to the Press Council on the grounds that it breached four principles of the Council's Code of Practice: 1) Accuracy, 3) Fairness and Honesty, 4) Respect for Rights, and 8) Incitement to Hatred.[11][12] In their case details the Press Council said:

beginning with the headline "Africa is giving nothing to anyone – apart from AIDS", the mode of presentation was marked by rhetorical extravagance and hyperbole which used the failings of some to stigmatise whole societies, employing a level of generalisation that was distorting and seriously insulting to Africans as a whole and that, ... [I]n addition the article resorted, in several instances, to language that was gratuitously offensive and was, in the view of the Press Council, likely to cause grave offence to people throughout sub-Saharan Africa and to the many Africans in particular who are now resident in Ireland. They concluded that the article did breach Principle 8 of the Code of Practice in that it was likely to cause grave offence. It did not, however, find reason to conclude that it was likely to stir-up hatred or that there was any intention to do so. They also concluded that the Council did not have clear grounds on which to make any findings in relation to the complaints under Principles 1, 3 & 4 of the Code.

— Press Council of Ireland Complainants and the Irish Independent[12]

Antisemitism and misogyny

Myers is a self-described Holocaust denier. He attracted criticism for a 2009 article for the Irish Independent in which he claims: "There was no holocaust (or Holocaust, as my computer software insists) and six million Jews were not murdered by the Third Reich. These two statements of mine are irrefutable truths".[13][14][15] In the article, Myers criticises the 6-million figure – though he says "millions of Jews were murdered" – and criticises the term holocaust because "[m]ost Jewish victims of the Third Reich were not burnt in the ovens in Auschwitz. They were shot by the hundreds of thousands in the Lebensraum of the east, or were worked or starved to death in a hundred other camps, across the Reich." Overall, he states: "I'm a holocaust denier; but I also believe that the Nazis planned the extermination of the Jewish people, as far as their evil hands could reach."[15]

At the end of July 2017, Myers contributed an article entitled "Sorry, ladies - equal pay has to be earned" to the Irish edition of The Sunday Times about the lower income of female presenters working for the BBC,[2] after it was reported that two thirds of the BBC's top paid stars were men and only one of its top ten best paid presenters is a woman.[16] He speculated: "Is it because men are more charismatic performers? Because they work harder? Because they are more driven? Possibly a bit of each"[17] and that men might be paid more because they "work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant".[3]

Myers further alleged that Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz are higher paid than other female presenters because they are Jewish.[3] He wrote: "Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity". The editor of the Irish edition, Frank Fitzgibbon, issued a statement saying in part "This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people". Martin Ivens, editor of The Sunday Times, said the article should not have been published. Ivens and Fitzgibbon apologised for publishing it.[17] After complaints from readers and the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the article was removed from the website.[3] It has been announced by the newspaper that Myers will not write for The Sunday Times again.[2]

Myers was defended by the chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, Maurice Cohen, who said that Myers was not antisemitic, but had rather "inadvertently stumbled into an antisemitic trope. … Branding Kevin Myers as either an antisemite or a Holocaust denier is an absolute distortion of the facts."[18] Myers apologised for this article on radio, saying that "it is over for me professionally as far as I can see", and that "I think they [Jewish people] are the most gifted people who have ever existed on this planet and civilisation owes an enormous debt to them – I am very, very sorry that I should have so offended them."[19]

Other work

Myers was presenter of the Challenging Times television quiz show on RTÉ during the 1990s. In 2000, he published a collection of his An Irishman's Diary columns (ISBN 1-85182-575-4). In 2001, he published Banks of Green Willow, a novel, which was met with negative reviews.[20] In 2006, he published Watching the Door (ISBN 1-84351-085-5), about his time as a journalist in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. The book received positive reviews in The Times,[21] The Guardian,[22] and the New Statesman,[23] while The Independent published a more mixed review that wondered whether there was "an element of hyperbole" in Myers' account.[24]

He is member of the Film Classification Appeals Board (formerly known as the Censorship Board)[25] and a regular contributor to radio programmes on Newstalk 106, particularly Lunchtime with Eamon Keane and The Right Hook. He has regularly appeared on The Last Word on Today FM.

Personal life

Myers is married and lives in County Kildare. He is the brother-in-law of TV presenter, producer and UK Big Brother housemate Anna Nolan.[8]

Bibliography

  • Kevin Myers: From the Irish Times Column 'An Irishman's Diary' (2000).
  • Banks of Green Willow (2001).
  • Watching the Door: A Memoir, 1971–1978 (2006).
  • More Myers: An Irishman's Diary, 1997–2006 (2007).
  • A Single Headstrong Heart (2013).
  • Ireland's Great War (2014).

References

  1. ^ a b c Jackson, Joe (9 November 2000). "Hot Press interview with Kevin Myers". Hot Press. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Logue, Patrick (30 July 2017). "Kevin Myers to 'no longer write' for Sunday Times after article offensive to Jews". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Columnist fired over 'anti-Semitic' Sunday Times article". BBC News. 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c Craig, Patricia. "Watching the Door, by Kevin Myers". The Independent, 7 March 2008; retrieved 27 May 2008.
  5. ^ Kevin Myers, A Single Headstrong Heart – Review: A memoir of self-reproach, The Irish Times, 24 December 2016
  6. ^ Myers, Kevin. "An Irishman's Diary by Kevin Myers". The Irish Times 8 February 2005.
  7. ^ Tryhorn, Chris (14 February 2005). "Row over Myers' Irish Times column continues to blaze". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2007. 
  8. ^ a b Sheehan, Maeve; Cusak, Jim (13 February 2005). "How Myers tackled the single mothers 'issue' and became a national hate figure". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 13 February 2005. The first complaints were slow to trickle in. Anna Nolan, standing in for Marian Finucane on her 9am radio show and, ironically, a sister-in-law of Mr Myers, broadcast the first complaints from irate callers. 
  9. ^ Myers, Kevin. "Africa is giving nothing to anyone except AIDS", Irish Independent, 10 July 2008; retrieved 23 July 2008.
  10. ^ Immigrant body lodges Garda complaint over Myers article. Irish Times, 16 July 2008; retrieved 23 July 2008.
  11. ^ Press Council upholds complaint against Myers' article, Irish Times, 18 October 2008
  12. ^ a b Complainants and the Irish Independent[permanent dead link], The Irish Press Council, 10 October 2008
  13. ^ Booth, Robert (30 July 2017). "Sunday Times accused of antisemitism over column on BBC pay". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  14. ^ "The article you are looking for is no longer available". Irish Independent. 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Myers, Kevin (6 March 2009). "There was no Holocaust". Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. 
  16. ^ "BBC pay: Male stars earn more than female talent". BBC News. 19 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  17. ^ a b Rose, Eleanor (30 July 2017). "Irish journalist Kevin Myers slammed for 'anti-Semitic' remarks in Sunday Times column". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  18. ^ "Irish Jewish leader defends Sunday Times journalist sacked for antisemitic slur". thejc.com. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  19. ^ McDonald, Henry (1 August 2017). "Sacked Sunday Times writer apologises for article branded antisemitic". theguardian.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  20. ^ "Banks of Green Willow by Kevin Myers". RTÉ News. 5 December 2001. Archived from the original on 20 December 2011. 
  21. ^ Kevin Myers; Andrew Mueller (22 March 2008). "Watching The Door: Cheating Death In 1970s Belfast". The Times. London. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 
  22. ^ Petit, Chris (18 April 2008). "Guns and girls". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 
  23. ^ "Here comes trouble". New Statesman. 27 March 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 
  24. ^ Craig, Patricia (7 March 2008). "Watching the Door, by Kevin Myers". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 
  25. ^ "When looney film censors ran our moral madhouse". Irish Independent. 11 January 2008. 

External links

  • Kevin Myers at the Irish Independent
  • Myers signs lucrative deal with Independent Newspapers[permanent dead link]The Sunday Business Post, 30 April 2006[dead link]
  • Ireland: The dark before the dawn — Interview with Myers in The Sunday Times, 29 October 2006
  • extract from 'Watching the Door' by Kevin Myers, published in The Independent, 8 March 2008
  • "Lies, damned lies, and the wickedness of Wikipedia", a sample column from Kevin Myers, dated 27 May 2008
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