Kevin Myers (born 30 March 1947) is an English-born Irish journalist and writer. He has contributed to The Irish Times' column "An Irishman's Diary", the Irish Independent, and the Irish edition of the Sunday Times.
Myers is known for his controversial views on a number of topics, including single mothers, aid for Africa and the Holocaust. In July 2017, The Sunday Times announced that Myers would no longer be writing for them following an article he wrote on the BBC gender pay gap, for which he was accused of antisemitism and misogyny, although the chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland stated "Branding Kevin Myers as either an antisemite or a Holocaust denier is an absolute distortion of the facts."
Myers was born in Leicester, and grew up in England. His father, an Irish GP, died when Myers was 15 and away at Ratcliffe College, a Catholic boarding school. His father's early death created financial difficulties, though Myers managed to stay at the school with the help of both the school and the Local Education Authority.
He subsequently worked as a journalist for Irish broadcaster RTÉ, and reported from Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles. He later worked for three of Ireland's major newspapers, the Irish Times, highest-circulation Irish Independent, and the Sunday Times.
In 2001, he published Banks of Green Willow, a novel, which was met with negative reviews. In 2006, he published Watching the Door (ISBN 1-84351-085-5), about his time as a journalist in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. The book received positive reviews in The Times, The Guardian, and the New Statesman, while The Independent published a more mixed review that wondered whether there was "an element of hyperbole" in Myers' account.
Myers is also a member of the Film Classification Appeals Board (formerly known as the Censorship Board).
In 2005, he attracted considerable criticism for his column, "An Irishman's Diary", in which he referred to children of unmarried mothers as "bastards":
How many girls - and we’re largely talking about teenagers here - consciously embark upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accommodation from the State? Ah. You didn’t like the term bastard? No, I didn’t think you would.
Former Minister of State Nuala Fennell described the column as "particularly sad." She said the word "bastard" was an example of pejorative language that was totally unacceptable. Myers issued an unconditional apology two days later, "entirely at [his] own initiative". Then Irish Times editor, Geraldine Kennedy, also apologised for having agreed to publish the article.
Aid to Africa
In July 2008, Myers wrote an article arguing that providing aid to Africa only results in increasing its population, and its problems. This produced strong reactions, with the Immigrant Council of Ireland making an official complaint to the Garda Síochána alleging incitement to hatred.
Hans Zomer of Dóchas, an association of NGOs, and another complainant, took a complaint to the Press Council on the grounds that it breached four principles of the Council's Code of Practice: 1) Accuracy, 3) Fairness and Honesty, 4) Respect for Rights, and 8) Incitement to Hatred. In their case details the Press Council said:
beginning with the headline "Africa is giving nothing to anyone – apart from AIDS", the mode of presentation was marked by rhetorical extravagance and hyperbole which used the failings of some to stigmatise whole societies, employing a level of generalisation that was distorting and seriously insulting to Africans as a whole and that, ... [I]n addition the article resorted, in several instances, to language that was gratuitously offensive and was, in the view of the Press Council, likely to cause grave offence to people throughout sub-Saharan Africa and to the many Africans in particular who are now resident in Ireland. They concluded that the article did breach Principle 8 of the Code of Practice in that it was likely to cause grave offence. It did not, however, find reason to conclude that it was likely to stir-up hatred or that there was any intention to do so. They also concluded that the Council did not have clear grounds on which to make any findings in relation to the complaints under Principles 1, 3 & 4 of the Code.— Press Council of Ireland Complainants and the Irish Independent
Alleged antisemitism and misogyny
At the end of July 2017, Myers contributed an article entitled "Sorry, ladies - equal pay has to be earned" to the Irish edition of The Sunday Times about the BBC gender pay gap controversy. He speculated: "Is it because men are more charismatic performers? Because they work harder? Because they are more driven? Possibly a bit of each" and that men might be paid more because they "work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant".
Myers further alleged that Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz are higher paid than other female presenters because they are Jewish. He wrote: "Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity". The editor of the Irish edition, Frank Fitzgibbon, issued a statement saying in part "This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people". Martin Ivens, editor of The Sunday Times, said the article should not have been published. Ivens and Fitzgibbon apologised for publishing it. After complaints from readers and the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the article was removed from the website. It has been announced by the newspaper that Myers will not write for The Sunday Times again.
Myers was defended by the chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, Maurice Cohen, who said that Myers was not antisemitic, but had rather "inadvertently stumbled into an antisemitic trope. … Branding Kevin Myers as either an antisemite or a Holocaust denier is an absolute distortion of the facts." Myers apologised for this article on radio, saying that "it is over for me professionally as far as I can see", and that "I think they [Jewish people] are the most gifted people who have ever existed on this planet and civilisation owes an enormous debt to them – I am very, very sorry that I should have so offended them."
Media reporting the 2017 controversy drew attention to a 2009 column in the Sunday Independent and Belfast Telegraph opposing laws against Holocaust denial. Despite accepting that "the Nazis planned the extermination of the Jewish people" and that "millions of Jews were murdered", Myers wrote "I'm a holocaust denier" by making hair-splitting objections to statements about the Holocaust: namely that the figure of six million Jews killed was false in that it was approximate, not exact; and that the label "holocaust" was etymologically inaccurate in that, unlike a sacrificial holocaust, most victims were "not burnt in the ovens in Auschwitz" but died by gunshot, overwork, or starvation. The column was subsequently removed from the Sunday Independent and Belfast Telegraph websites. The Observer referred to "Holocaust denier Kevin Myers", later adding a footnote "Kevin Myers says he is not a Holocaust denier. He is not, in the usual sense of that term." In February 2018, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland by majority decision upheld an objection to a Morning Ireland presenter's description of Myers as a Holocaust denier: "While noting that Mr. Myers had described himself as a 'Holocaust denier' in a typically provocative newspaper article that he had written, it was evident from the article as a whole that his description did not in fact amount to a statement denying the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazi regime. Rather, the article was a comment on how language is used and the criminalisation of individuals or groups who engage in Holocaust denial."
- Kevin Myers: From the Irish Times Column 'An Irishman's Diary' (2000).
- Banks of Green Willow (2001).
- Watching the Door: A Memoir, 1971–1978 (2006).
- More Myers: An Irishman's Diary, 1997–2006 (2007).
- A Single Headstrong Heart (2013).
- Ireland's Great War (2014).
- Jackson, Joe (9 November 2000). "Hot Press interview with Kevin Myers". Hot Press. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- Logue, Patrick (30 July 2017). "Kevin Myers to 'no longer write' for Sunday Times after article offensive to Jews". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Columnist fired over 'anti-Semitic' Sunday Times article". BBC News. 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Craig, Patricia. "Watching the Door, by Kevin Myers". The Independent, 7 March 2008; retrieved 27 May 2008.
- Kevin Myers, A Single Headstrong Heart – Review: A memoir of self-reproach, The Irish Times, 24 December 2016
- "Banks of Green Willow by Kevin Myers". RTÉ News. 5 December 2001. Archived from the original on 20 December 2011.
- Kevin Myers; Andrew Mueller (22 March 2008). "Watching The Door: Cheating Death In 1970s Belfast". The Times. London. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- Petit, Chris (18 April 2008). "Guns and girls". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- "Here comes trouble". New Statesman. 27 March 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- Craig, Patricia (7 March 2008). "Watching the Door, by Kevin Myers". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- "When looney film censors ran our moral madhouse". Irish Independent. 11 January 2008.
- Myers, Kevin. "An Irishman's Diary by Kevin Myers". The Irish Times 8 February 2005.
- Tryhorn, Chris (14 February 2005). "Row over Myers' Irish Times column continues to blaze". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2007.
- Sheehan, Maeve; Cusak, Jim (13 February 2005). "How Myers tackled the single mothers 'issue' and became a national hate figure". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 13 February 2005.
The first complaints were slow to trickle in. Anna Nolan, standing in for Marian Finucane on her 9am radio show and, ironically, a sister-in-law of Mr Myers, broadcast the first complaints from irate callers.
- Myers, Kevin. "Africa is giving nothing to anyone except AIDS", Irish Independent, 10 July 2008; retrieved 23 July 2008.
- Immigrant body lodges Garda complaint over Myers article. Irish Times, 16 July 2008; retrieved 23 July 2008.
- Press Council upholds complaint against Myers' article, Irish Times, 18 October 2008
- Complainants and the Irish Independent[permanent dead link], The Irish Press Council, 10 October 2008
- "BBC pay: Male stars earn more than female talent". BBC News. 19 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Rose, Eleanor (30 July 2017). "Irish journalist Kevin Myers slammed for 'anti-Semitic' remarks in Sunday Times column". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Irish Jewish leader defends Sunday Times journalist sacked for antisemitic slur". thejc.com. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
- McDonald, Henry (1 August 2017). "Sacked Sunday Times writer apologises for article branded antisemitic". theguardian.com. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
- Myers, Kevin (6 March 2009). "There was no Holocaust". Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017.
- "The article you are looking for is no longer available". Irish Independent. 30 July 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Booth, Robert (30 July 2017). "Sunday Times accused of antisemitism over column on BBC pay". The Observer. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Complaint against George Hook programme upheld by BAI". RTÉ.ie. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.; "83/17: Mr. Karl Martin: RTÉ Radio 1: Morning Ireland: 31st July 2017" (PDF). Broadcasting Complaint Decisions. Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. February 2018. pp. 26–30 : 29. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- Kevin Myers at the Irish Independent
- Myers signs lucrative deal with Independent Newspapers[permanent dead link] — The Sunday Business Post, 30 April 2006[dead link]
- Ireland: The dark before the dawn — Interview with Myers in The Sunday Times, 29 October 2006
- extract from 'Watching the Door' by Kevin Myers, published in The Independent, 8 March 2008
- "Lies, damned lies, and the wickedness of Wikipedia", a sample column from Kevin Myers, dated 27 May 2008