Sir, – As a writer who shares former Irish Times foreign correspondent Mary Fitzgerald’s fascination with “[t]he story of Libya’s uprising, and the ‘Arab Spring’ more generally”, it was with great interest I read the interview she gave the Irish Independent in November 2011. Entitled “Listening to Libya’s stories of freedom”, she then waxed lyrical about her first hand experiences in the North African country that has subsequently imploded into chaos and violence from which nobody is safe:
“The story of Libya’s uprising is hard to beat, especially for those of us who were there right from the beginning – I arrived in Libya ten days after the first protests began on February 15. Several friends who covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and all that followed in 1989 say Libya – or the Arab Spring more generally – is the only story that has grabbed them in the same way.
“The Libyan uprising was a genuine people’s revolution involving Libyans from all walks of life – young, old, male, female, rich and poor – and their strength and courage in the face of Gaddafi’s brutality was hugely inspiring and very moving.”
Speaking of brutality, last week three of our fellow Irish citizens were murdered on a beach in neighbouring Tunisia by a gunman believed to have been trained in the now lawless Libya — presumably by some of those same strong and courageous revolutionaries lauded by Fitzgerald.
At the end of that 2011 interview, she was asked for her advice to aspiring journalists. She said that they should “remember [that] the basic foundations of our craft remain – bearing witness, holding people to account, and listening. Never stop listening.” I couldn’t agree more.
But in light of our country having now become a major exporter of Islamic jihad, does she think that she should also be held to account for having promoted a most favourable image of the likes of Mahdi al-Harati and other Irish-based jihadists as they slaughtered their way through Libya and Syria? Does she feel that she has borne sufficient witness to the suffering of their many victims? And would she say that she has never stopped listening to Libyans and Syrians such as Mother Agnes and others like her who don’t share the sectarian vision for their countries held by the jihadists?
In a piece published June 30 entitled “The Tunisia Massacre and the Irish-ISIS Connection”, I cited some of Fitzgerald’s promotional work for these “gentle” jihadists. If she can spare the time from her hectic globe-trotting, I’d love to know what she thinks of it.
When I told a friend of mine who used to work for U.S. intelligence about her fascinating career path, he suggested that she might even be an NOC officer. Does she or her former employer, the Irish Times, have any comment to make regarding widespread suspicions that she is associated with an intelligence agency?
MAIDHC Ó CATHAIL, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary.