JPIMedia boss pleads for ‘nation’ as 12 weeklies merge online

A publishing boss urged a region of the UK to “assert its right to nationality” after launching a new title to serve it.

David Montgomery, Executive Chairman of National World, owner of JPIMedia, made the appeal after the launch of the Northern Ireland World website.

Traffic for a dozen Northern Ireland newspapers from JPIMedia is now redirected to the new platform, although no print titles are affected by the move.

The site is edited by Valerie Martin, editor-in-chief of the JPIMedia weeklies in Northern Ireland.

Mr Montgomery, himself from County Down, has now written a first-person play for the title, in which he urged Northern Ireland to “seize the moment and boldly determine its own future” .

He wrote: “Northern Ireland has gained the opportunity to take on the role of a full nation.

“This is not to deny either side in the Irish unity argument. Indeed, confident and competent governance of Northern Ireland as an independent entity backed by Britain, Ireland and Europe – a northern Switzerland – might be the only way to finally resolve the issue. Irish.

“If Irish unity is ever achieved, it can only be with two equals – two nation states – coming together voluntarily. Otherwise, it will be seen by a noisy minority as an annexation on one side and a betrayal on the other.

“The way forward, as it always has been, is to forget the past and cherish it instead.”

Mr Montgomery then urged politicians to “become statesmen and women of states representing whole of Northern Ireland and no other nation”.

He added, “NI is blessed with many things – an industrious and loyal workforce, a good quality of life for a growing middle class, a growing diverse population, and high standards of behavior based in part on l religious adherence. And, of course, the most characteristic landscape of the island of Ireland.

“What has changed is that more people identify less with being British or Irish and instead claim to be Northern Irish wholeheartedly.

“They proudly identify with belonging to a place of their own which, mainly through its own efforts, is shedding the struggles and bitterness of the past.

“For Northern Ireland, in early 2022, a nation is beckoning.”

Following title launch, Ballymena Times, Ballymoney Times, Banbridge Leader, Carrick Times, Coleraine Times, Larne Times, Londonderry Sentinel, Lurgan Mail, Mid-Ulster Mail, Newstownabbey Times, Portadown Times and the Ulster Star no longer maintain their own dedicated websites.

The Belfast News Letter and Derry Journal websites are not affected by the move.

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