THE owner of O’Mahony’s bookshop in Limerick city has defended their decision to host a book signing by crime journalist Paul Williams, whose latest work documents crime in Limerick.
Dozens of people objected to the signing and called for a boycott of the store – unless his books were removed – on O’Mahony’s Facebook page since the signing on Saturday, which was attended by hundreds of fans of the author.
In a letter posted online by Frank O’Mahony, in response to the comments, he said never before had a visit by an author stirred up so many comments from the public.
“As a company we go out of our way to support Irish authors. We would also resist all forms of censorship of the written word...however much we disagree with their content or the views they espouse. A slippery slope beckons if we go down this road - we stock over 200,000 books and there will always be a small percentage of people who are or could be offended by the contents of some of them,” he wrote.
Mr O’Mahony went on to point out that the signing was attended by as many as 300 people, including a large number of gardai, who he says hold Mr Williams in high esteem.
“There is genuine question about whether such a book damages the reputation of Limerick. To me, it’s the definitive story of a few terrible years in Limerick’s history - let the story be told in a way that does not glorify the wrongdoers, let us learn from that and then move on swiftly towards building a better city.”
“I think you can take it for granted that we would never do anything to deliberately hurt Limerick’s reputation.
“My last words to Paul Williams were – ‘Paul, let’s hope that’s the final chapter and you never have to write a book about Limerick crime again,” he wrote.
Entitled Murder Inc, the 385-page account of the explosion of crime in Limerick from the 1990s on drew criticism from the public, who would prefer the city was seen in a new light, especially during its current term as City of Culture, which will soon draw to a close.
Among those who attended the signing in O’Mahony’s were the former mayor of Limerick, Independent councillor John Gilligan, and Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins.
People queued for over an hour to meet the award-winning journalist. The book is No 2 in O’Mahony’s current bestsellers’ list – second only to The Test, the autobiography of rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll, which was co-written by Limerick Leader editor Alan English.
Deputy Collins told the Limerick Leader that Mr Williams “tells the story as it is, and shouldn’t be criticised for that.” David Rice, who lectured Mr Williams on journalism in the Rathmines school and now resides in Killaloe, said he is very proud of his former pupil for the courage he has shown in standing up to criminal gangs. However, barrister and councillor Emmett O’Brien took to the local airwaves, following the author’s appearance on The Late Late Show on Friday night last, saying the same crime stories are continually being “rehashed”.