Paul Williams (Irish journalist)
|Born||1964 (age 50–51)|
|Other names||"The Hack"|
|Notable credit(s)||Dirty Money: The Story of the Criminal Assets Bureau
Paul Williams Investigates—The Battle for the Gas Fields
Williams was first educated in Ballinamore, County Leitrim and then in Carrigallen, County Leitrim. He moved to Dublin in 1984 to study journalism at the Rathmines School of Journalism but dropped out after one year.
Paul Williams is married to wife, Ann, with whom he has two teenage children. He enjoys being among his associates in the pub; these associates are mostly serving or former gardaí, including former garda commissioner Pat Byrne and retired assistant commissioner Tony Hickey, as well as former Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea and RTÉ's Joe Duffy. Williams has been described as "a jealous guardian of his position as top dog among crime journalists".
In popular culture
Williams is the author of best-selling crime boss exposés, The General (2003) and The Untouchables (2006). As a crime correspondent with the Sunday World, Williams first broke before other members of the Irish press many news stories on the notorious Martin Cahill (nicknamed "The General"). The General was made into a major award-winning movie directed by John Boorman; the book was also published in the USA and Spain. Williams' other books include Gangland (1998), Evil Empire (2001), Crimelords (2003), Crime Wars (2008), and Badfellas (2011). Williams also ghost-wrote the book Secret Love (1995) with Phylis Hamilton; this tells the story of her secret 20-year love affair with Ireland's most outspoken Catholic priest on issues of sexual morality, Fr. Michael Cleary. Hamilton, who worked as Fr. Cleary's housekeeper, had two sons with the celebrity cleric.
Dirty Money: The Story of the Criminal Assets Bureau, a six-part TV series on the history of the Criminal Assets Bureau by Paul Williams, began on January 2008 on TV3; it won Best Documentary at that year's TV Now Awards.
In Paul Williams Investigates—The Battle for the Gas Fields aired on June 2009 on TV3, Williams reported on the Corrib gas controversy. Campaigners who protest the Corrib gas project argued the documentary was biased in favour of Royal Dutch Shell – the title itself shows that the "battle" is "for" the gas fields. Irish Independent reviewer John Boland also criticised Williams' obvious bias – "instead of providing an exposé [Williams] contented himself with innuendo and abuse", while "At the outset, he disingenuously asked if these 'vocal underdogs' were national heroes or 'villains' standing in the way of national progress, but he himself had no doubt about the answer, his attitude announcing itself in the language he used". The Irish Times reporter Frank McDonald reported that the documentary failed to explain the Shell's aims to Sea protesters. . Complaints were made to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission but were rejected on the grounds that the broadcast gave a fair opportunity for both sides to have their say.
After the murder of noted crime correspondent Veronica Guerin in 1996, Williams took over the mantle of Sunday World reporting on some of Ireland's most notorious criminals. His articles appear weekly there where, according to the newspaper's website, he maintains a vast archive of background material.
Williams has been the recipient of several death threats from organised crime and terrorist groups and has been receiving armed Garda protection for several years. The cost of this to the tax payer has been heavily criticised . On 16 March 2007, a man was acquitted at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of "threatening to kill or cause serious harm" to Paul Williams. The jury of four men and seven women deliberated for just one hour and thirty minutes to acquit Walsh on both charges on the sixth day of the trial.
In 2003 Williams, his family and 150 neighbours had to be evacuated from their homes when Gardaí found a bomb (later found to be a hoax) attached to his car. Williams responded: "I am not going to stop taking on these bast**ds".
Williams has been the subject of criticism that he is a mouthpiece for the gardaí "who use his column to shape the public perception of the criminals he writes about and, quite possibly, to stir up tensions between rival gangs and major league villains". The Sunday Tribune said a common criticism of Williams is that he is "little more than a cheerleader for the gardaí" and noted Williams's tendency to steer away from any crime or corruption within the force.
Williams has been criticised for his tendency to give nicknames such as "The Tosser", "The Penguin", "Babyface" and "Fatpuss" to the criminals he is reporting on. Critics complain this has served to glamourise the criminals and to boost their public profile.
In 2002, Williams and the Sunday World were sued for libel after a story he had written in 1999 was proved to be untrue. In the article, Williams claimed a nun named Nora Wall had procured children so that they could be raped by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth. The paper issued a full apology and was forced to pay a €175,000 settlement to Ms. Wall.
In 2008, the Sunday Tribune reported that "his stories these days almost take second place to his personal celebrity" and that "friends say that he is only too aware of this and has renegotiated his contract throughout the years to reflect his market value".
News of the World
After receiving what he described as "a substantial offer" thought to involve a €250,000 salary, Williams left the Sunday World, where he had worked for 23 years, in January 2010, and joined the Irish News of the World as its crime editor. However, the Sunday World took out a High Court injunction in an effort to prevent him from taking up his new position until his three months' notice to leave had expired.
His Sunday World contract had seen Williams paid a salary of just €145,000, increased by 2.5 per cent in 2008 and 2009.
The dispute was settled soon afterward.
He joined stablemate the Irish Sun in October 2011.
Since 2012, he has contributed to the Irish Independent. TD Joan Collins named him under Dáil privilege as one of those to benefit from having their penalty points cancelled by gardaí. Justice Minister Alan Shatter called Collins's action a "total disgrace" and she was reported to a Leinster House watchdog called the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
- McCaffrey, Mick. "Profile – Paul Williams". Sunday Tribune. 26 October 2008.
- Hamilton, Phylis & Williams, Paul (1995). Secret Love: My Life With Father Cleary. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85158-814-5. ISBN 1-85158-814-0.
- "TV Guide" TV3.
- Boland, John. "If only paul had piped down a bit". Irish Independent. 6 June 2009.
- Cormac Looney (1 October 2009). "Paul's Corrib documentary fair – watchdog". Evening Herald. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
- Columnists index."Paul Williams: Crime Writer". Sunday World. 2008.
- "Paul Williams to have round the clock Garda protection after events of the last few days". 4 May 2007.
- "Man acquitted of threatening journalist". Radio Telefís Éireann. 16 March 2007. Retrieved 9 June 2007.
- "Gardaí probe INLA link to bomb hoax". Breakingnews.ie. 14 November 2003. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
- Carroll, Steven. "Williams for 'News of the World'".The Irish Times. 15 January 2010.
- "Sunday World and Paul Willi back in court on Friday". Business & Leadership. 19 January 2010.
- "Sunday World settles with Williams". The Irish Times. 22 January 2010.
- Brennan, Michael (12 December 2012). "TD 'abused privilege' by naming writer and rugby player over penalty points". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- Sheahan, Fionnan (12 December 2012). "TD Joan Collins reported to Dáil watchdog for naming journalist and rugby writer in penalty points row". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 12 December 2012.