London: A few months back the Irish Post, the voice of the Irish in Britain, seemed doomed.
The Irish-based Examiner group had decided to pull the plug claiming substantial losses and it looked like the end for the flagship of the Irish community throughout Britain.
The widespread view was that the Examiner Group, beset by losses in its Irish publications. had just decided that the British paper was not worth the candle.
They did so in a stunning 48 hour period, telling staff the publication had ceased publishing and the newspaper was no more.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the wake.
The community rallied to its newspaper and refused to let it die.
Jennie McShannon head of The Federation of Irish Societies stated the Post could not be allowed to close. it was “more than a business – it was an institution”“The Irish Post has been our strength, our core. It has bound the community together and provided a much-needed focus.”
Then the staff of the Irish Post, instead of taking the closure lying down hit back, saying they believed the newspaper was still solvent and profitable and had been abandoned by its owners because their attention was elsewhere, on their troubled Irish properties.
They mounted a 'Save the Irish Post' campaign which soon drew a massive following. They worked tirelessly to seek out new investors who would save the title. They took to the Internet and the corridors of power.
The Post had stood with the Irish community during the dark days of The Troubles when bombs in Britain made it hazardous to be Irish. Miscarriages of justice like the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and others were carried out when innocent Irishmen and women were jailed for horrific bombings that IRA units had carried out.
It was a time of anti-Irish sentiment everywhere, where almost every comedian used Irish jokes as his staple. The Irish Post, under founder Brendan Mac Lua stood up for its community and provided the vital backbone that kept the community flourishing.
So much was at stake for the Irish community when the Post closed. According to Martin Collins, parliamentary officer for the Federation who I met for dinner here in London this weekend, the combined pressure had an immediate impact.
He himself helped rally 75 members of parliament to the cause , a clear indication of how influential the newspaper had become even in government and political circles in Britain.
"We knew the pressure was on to save the newspaper, the very lifeblood of our community," he said. " We threw everything at it."
It was a race against time. The sudden decision to shutter the newspaper had meant that each passing week made it ever more vital to get the title back on the street.
It is the story you have read about a hundred times in this new era of publishing where cutbacks and closures are the rule.
But the Irish Post beat the odds.
An investor was found, a newspaper was saved.
As I passed through Euston Station the other day I went to the newsstand and witnessed a miracle, the second issue of the Irish Post, large and lovely on the newsstand.
It is the newspaper that would not die and sure, there may be tough days ahead , but a community has spoken out and a great newspaper has been saved.
The Irish Post became a story in itself for a brief period for all the wrong reasons.
Now that has been precisely reversed.
Long may it prosper.
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