Forbes say Limerick article on Collison brothers 'failed to meet editorial standards'

In the wake of the article, which was criticised by the Stripe co-founders, the hashtag #LimerickandProud began to trend on Twitter
Forbes say Limerick article on Collison brothers 'failed to meet editorial standards'

Patrick and John Collison, co-founders of Stripe, described the article's references to Limerick as "daft". 

An article describing how the brothers who founded Stripe "escaped" Limerick city failed to meet the "editorial standards” of Forbes magazine, the firm’s chief communications officer said.

In a short statement to the  Limerick Leader, the representative of Forbes magazine said the article by Dublin-born contributor Stephen McBride which referred to Limerick as "Stab City" and the "murder capital" of Europe, failed to meet editorial standards and was removed from the financial publications' website shortly after it was published.

Forbes had been lambasted following the publication of the article which profiled the Castletroy-educated co-founders of major multinational firm Stripe.

In one of the most bizarre profile pieces on John and Patrick Collison, the Treaty County's most celebrated global exports of recent years, Forbes magazine described Limerick as akin to a warzone with life-threatening danger to be found at every turn.

What made the article even more head-scratchingly odd is that the author of the online piece is himself Irish. 

According to a biography on the company website RiskHedge, Stephen McBride was born in Dublin, is the firm's chief analyst, and spends his time between the US and Ireland.

There is no apparent indication that Mr McBride's article entitled "How two brothers escaped “Stab City” and made $11bn" was meant to be satirical or tongue-in-cheek, albeit it was posted on RiskHedge's own website on April 1.

It appeared online at Forbes, which is a prestigious financial magazine owned by the Forbes family and Integrated Whale Media, before quietly being removed after a storm of protest on Friday, April 9.

Mr McBride wrote: "They call it “stab city.” Many folks think Ireland is all rolling green hills and five-star golf courses...But in the middle of the Irish countryside is a city called Limerick—known as the “murder capital” of Europe.

Stripe Offices in Dublin. Stripe, the online payments firm founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, is to create at least 1,000 new jobs here over the next five year. Picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Stripe Offices in Dublin. Stripe, the online payments firm founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, is to create at least 1,000 new jobs here over the next five year. Picture: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

"A couple of years back, a gang feud turned Limerick into a warzone. Shootings, pipe bomb attacks, and stabbings happened nightly. Some bad neighborhoods (sic) are even walled off by a dirty, graffitied 10-foot-high concrete barrier, like the Berlin Wall.

"It’s the kind of place, as my grandfather says, “Where even the German Shepherds walk around in pairs.” Limerick is the last place you want your kids growing up."

The "stab city" moniker was a lazy label given to Limerick in the last century, supposedly to depict the dangers of crime in the city. However, by any objective stretch of the imagination, Mr McBride's description of the city would be laughably inaccurate if not so offensive.

If his motivation was to create controversy for the sake of it, Mr McBride succeeded in the art of so-called "trolling", which is online speak for attempting to stir up arguments and outrage through deliberately offensive means.

Patrick Collison himself was bemused by the article's inaccuracy, tweeting: 

"Not only mistaken about Limerick but the idea of "overcoming" anything is crazy. We are who we are *because* we grew up where we did."

John Collison was more concise in his description, simply calling the article "daft".

Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Michael Collins, called the article "defamatory and ill-advised", while TD Kieran O'Donnell called for an apology over the "appalling" piece.

Cllr Elisa O'Donovan said she was mortified for Forbes for publishing such an article, instead linking a heartwarming video the Limerick Underground Twitter account showing what the city was really like, complete with "urban parks, Georgian streets and historic bridges."

Office of Public Works (OPW) minister Patrick O'Donovan, called on Forbes to retract its "work of fiction" and to visit the city, while TD Niall Collins called the piece "trash ill-informed journalism" at best.

John and Patrick Collison's online payments company Stripe announced last month that it is to create 1,000 jobs in Ireland over the next five years, with €600m new funding being invested in its European operations. 

Founded in 2010, Stripe has become one of the most celebrated firms of recent years, counting Amazon and Google among its users, and is said to be valued at $95bn (€79.8bn).

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