Tim Pat Coogan was just one of those Irish journalists who fell foul of the censorious O'Brien. He recounted how a colleague of his from the Washington Post interviewed O'Brien when he was a government minister.
In the course of the interview O'Brien pulled a sheaf of letters from his drawer, which were all letters in the Irish Press newspaper, which was edited by Coogan at the time.
The letters were pro-Nationalist viewpoints on Northern Ireland. O'Brien told the startled journalist that he was considering prosecuting the editor of the newspaper for carrying them.
Little wonder that O'Brien also got rid of famed Northern journalist Mary Holland, one of the best writers on The Troubles, when he became editor of the Observer newspaper. Holland's sympathetic view of Northern nationalism doomed her in his eyes.
Incidentally, Coogan once described O'Brien as the equivalent of a "lighthouse in a bog, brilliant but useless."