Newspaper with Falun Gong links launched

The Post (Ireland)/August 21, 2005
ByEmmet Ryan

A newspaper with links to Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong has been launched in Ireland.

The Epoch Times is published weekly and 10,000 copies are distributed nationwide. Many of the newspaper's staff, including its editor Gerald O'Connor, have links to the movement.

"It's unfair to say it's a Falun Gong newspaper. If someone reads the newspaper and thinks it is, then they should get on tome and I'll rectify it," said O'Connor. "As far as I know we haven't run anything related to Falun Gong so far."

The publication's contributors include Brian Trought, a Falun Gong practitioner from Cork who was arrested at a protest in Beijing in 2001. [Update: Brian Trought is no longer a contributor to the Epoch Times and has ceased practicing Falun Gong]. Falun Gong claims to have 100 million followers worldwide, most of whom are in China.

"This newspaper brings a strong focus on human rights issues. It's not sensational, we focus on news that's worthwhile," said O'Connor.

The newspaper is an offshoot of the New York-based Epoch Times. It is printed in nine languages and the Chinese version has over 1.2 million readers. The Chinese edition has been available in Ireland since 2002.

The English language version of The Epoch Times arrived on Irish shelves last month and contains a mix of Irish and international news.

The main focus of the international news is on Chinese issues.

Last November the parent publication published a series of opinion articles called Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, criticising the history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The fifth article was published in the latest issue of the Irish edition.

This issue also carried an article about Han Guangsheng, a former CCP member.

He defected from the party and criticised the CCP in the piece. The publication is available in over 30 countries and much of the news in the Irish version is sourced from these local editions.

"The advantage of this is that a lot of our news is coming from people on the ground who know what's going on," said O'Connor.

O'Connor said the newspaper is not receiving financial support from the parent publication but that it is backed by "private Irish investors''.

The Epoch Times costs €1 and is distributed nationwide by Eason's. Free promotional copies are being given out door-to-door in parts of north Dublin.

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