AddThis SmartLayers

Praise for editor who saw paper through the Troubles

A former newspaper editor presented with a lifetime achievement award has been described as ‘one of the best’ and a ‘true gentleman of the press.’

Roy Lilley was editor of the Belfast Telegraph for 19 years from 1974 at the height of the Troubles which divided the city.

He was presented with the accolade at the Chartered Institute for Public Relations  Northern Ireland Media Awards held at the weekend.

His successor Ed Curran described him at the ceremony as a ‘giant of the Northern Ireland newspaper industry.’

From left: Martin Lindsay, Mike Gilson, Roy Lilley and Ed Curran.

Said Ed: “He had withstood every pressure that was thrown at him from every side, even when his newspaper was severely damaged by a bomb in 1976.

“In relation to his editorship, we are talking about courageous journalism of the very highest order.”

Columnist Lindy McDowell wrote: “He was intimidating to the novice not because he ranted and raved and threw his weight around – that was never, ever Roy Lilley’s style – but because he was a perfectionist who lived and breathed good journalism and expected the very best from those who worked on the paper. Fairness. Precision. The facts.

“But he also was (and is) a man who delighted in language. Who looked upon words as treasured gems to be gauged and polished and offered up in perfect setting.

“I imagine if you cut Roy Lilley, his veins would bleed ink so much is he a newspaperman.

“Roy Lilley isn’t just one of the newspaper game’s good guys. He’s one of the best.”

Roy, 73, received an OBE from the Queen following his retirement in 1998.

He joined the flagship daily title from 1959, and was editorial director for six years between 1992 and 1998.