I see the Irish Times took up my story surrounding the dramatic revelation by Labour Senator John Wilson that Bord Gais had made their pitch to establish Irish Water under false pretences.

Bizarrely, however, the Irish Times took the same line as RTE and, effectively, censored the principal allegation made by Senator Whelan.

Here’ s the exact charge made by the Senator against Bord Gais.

No, what I’m saying is this. Bord Gais through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water and I believe they did so under false pretences and they haven’t delivered.

Here’s how the Irish Times reported his allegations.

“No, what I’m saying is this: Bord Gáis through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water . . . and they haven’t delivered.”

Leaving out the words; ‘under false pretences’ strips the report of any relevance, it effectively kills the story.

So much for the ‘paper of record’.

Note:
The Irish Times, in common with many mainstream media outlets, still finds it difficult to credit bloggers and other social media sources with stories.

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During the pro government love-in on the Marian Finucane Show last Sunday Fionnan Sheahan, political editor of ‘Independent’ Newspapers did, like so many other establishment journalists, allow that the great unwashed do have a right to protest.

But, his generous concession to the masses came with a dire warning.

It would be a shame if recent events such as we saw here would tarnish everybody who decides to take to the streets.

The pro government panel all muttered in solemn agreement. And I’m sure I could hear a distant murmur from the listening peasantry recognizing the wisdom and charity of this fine Irish ‘Independent’ journalist.

Somebody said to be recently, the great seer went on:

It takes a lot to get Paddy out on the streets but when he gets out there you can’t get him off again.

The pro government panel all dutifully laughed at the humorous wisdom of this great national philosopher.

I see outside Leinster House on a weekly basis groups of people from all parts of the country coming up taking up their protests and you have to say, more power to them and it’s only right and proper that they be allowed to do that.

This generous and unsought sentiment, I must admit, brought me to the edge of tears – ‘it’s only right and proper that they be allowed to do that.’

My God, I thought, the Irish peasantry is so lucky to have such an enlightened journalist recognise their democratic rights.

And, it must be remembered, this weekly engagement with the peasantry outside Leinster House probably occurs when the journalist is on his way to meet the Great Leader and his hard working fellow politicians as they beaver away protecting the democratic rights of the sadly, ignorant and unappreciative masses.

It’s no easy thing to mix in such exalted circles while at the same time retaining an understanding of the coarser feelings of the common citizenry.

I think our problem here is, you’re seeing fringe elements now attaching themselves to legitimate people.

The pro government panel all murmured in agreement at this warning to the ‘legitimate’ people of Ireland – whoever they are.

And, to be fair to this most unbiased of journalists, he does clearly take ownership of his views when he states ‘I think our problem is.

The ‘our’ he speaks of is, of course, those on the pro government panel, the government and wider body politic (excluding certain sinister elements, naturally) and his bosses at ‘Independent’ Newspapers.

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Panel on Marian Finucane’s Sunday’s show.

Gerard Craughwell, Independent Senator: Generally spoke in opposition of Sinn Fein politics and anti-water chargers protesters.

Stephen Kinsella, Economist: Generally spoke in opposition of Sinn Fein politics and anti-water chargers protesters.

Suzanne Lynch, Irish Times correspondent: Generally spoke in opposition of Sinn Fein politics and anti-water chargers protesters.

John Walshe, former special advisor to Education Minister: Generally spoke in opposition of Sinn Fein politics and anti-water chargers protesters.

Fionnan Sheahan, political editor Independent Newspapers: Generally spoke in opposition of Sinn Fein politics and anti-water chargers protesters.

In addition to the panel Ms. Finucane interviewed:

Katherine Zappone, Independent Senator: Criticised the anti-water charges protesters.

Joan Burton, Tanaiste and Minister for Social Protection: Strongly critical of water protesters. Was permitted to ramble on without any serious challenge by a mostly sympathetic Finucane.

Minister Burton even managed to repeat Kenny’s insulting advice to the peasants – To save water; you must turn off the tap when washing your teeth.

Conclusion:

RTE is not a national broadcaster; it’s a Government broadcaster.

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During the discussion in which announced to the country that Bord Gais had established Irish Water under false pretences Labour Senator John Whelan said that, as a politician, he would rather be honest than popular.

On his website he is quoted as saying:

I don’t want to be another career politician. I desperately want to do something about the mess we are in.

Another quote on his website goes:

He has regularly been referred to as a courageous and outspoken journalist.

Well, Senator Whelan is no longer courageous and outspoken. He is just another career politician who has opted to be popular with the rotten political system rather than be honest with the Irish people.

I have been trying to contact the senator since he made his very serious allegations without success; he’s in hiding. Neither has he made any public statements, either in the Senate or in public to explain his allegations.

As a public representative Senator Whelan has a duty to either retract his allegations or take action on them. He has done neither.

So, in effect, the Senator has decided to join the ranks of political gombeens who, over the decades, have served their own and their party’s interests at the expense of Ireland and its people.

Copy to:
Senator Whelan

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On Wednesday 5 November last, during a discussion on the RTE current affairs programme Late Debate, Labour Senator John Whelan stated that Bord Gais had made their pitch to establish Irish Water under false pretences.

RTE decided to censor the comments of Senator Whelan by removing the relevant comments. I believe this was a mistake.

The presenter of the programme, Cormac O’hEadhra, made it crystal clear that RTE was disassociating itself from the comments of Senator Whelan and that, I believe, was more than sufficient to protect the station from legal action.

I believe that by deciding to censor the relevant section RTE was killing a major story that was of crucial importance to the people of Ireland.

Senator Whelan had divulged new, extremely important information and any news agency worth its salt would ensure that that information was broadcast so that people would be properly informed. The importance of the story should have overridden any fear of legal action.

I have managed to obtain a transcript of the relevant section censored by RTE. I have made some small changes for ease of reading and omitted non-relevant dialogue.

Labour Senator John Whelan: It would be the act of supreme political cowardice of me to come here tonight and try and wash my hands of Irish Water and say it’s nothing to do with me as the minister who set it up has done, I think that’s appalling.

Cormac O’hEadhra (Presenter): Did you vote against the Irish Water?

Senator Whelan: No, no, I’m going to say….interrupted.

O’hEadhra: So you voted for it?

strong>Senator Whelan: I’m in favour of water charges and I’m in favour of a water company that provides clean, safe water.

O’hEadhra: Let me clarify this, did you vote for the bill or not?

Senator Whelan: I did but…interrupted.

O’hEadhra: So all of the things you outlined, you voted for?

Senator Whelan: No, no, that’s not true. The thing is, we were misled.

O’hEadhra: By whom?

Senator Whelan: I believe that Bord Gais sold the Government a pup when it said that it had the capacity, the resources, the personnel and the skill set. I argued for it to be awarded to Bord na Mona and that’s on the record.

O’hEadhra: Wait now, you say, you as a parliamentarian, when you voted on the Bill, you were misled?

Senator Whelan: Absolutely, by Bord Gais who tendered for the franchise.

O’hEadhra: And all of your colleagues were misled?

Senator Whelan: I believe we were sold a pup and that’s why…interrupted.

O’hEadhra: Are you saying then that the Government was voting on the Irish Water bill on a false premise?

Senator Whelan: I believe the contract should have been awarded, the record will show, to Bord na Mona. I believe that Bord Gais, and this is why the Government has gone in, Alan Kelly has gone in and stripped it back, the board has to be reconfigured, reconstituted and…interrupted.

O’hEadhra: Wait now, this is very serious John. What you’re saying this evening, surely, does that not render the validity of the Bill, the Act all null and void?

Senator Whelan: No, what I’m saying is this. Bord Gais through the process of New Era and the line minister at the time made a pitch to establish Irish Water and I believe they did so under false pretences and they haven’t delivered.

Non-relevant dialogue.

O’hEadhra: Can I just return to the somewhat dramatic vista that John Whelan has presented us with about the Irish Water Bill saying that Irish parliamentarians were voting on a false premise.

Dearbhaill McDonald (Legal Editor at Irish Independent): Yes, that they were misled. I think sometimes politicians forget that when they’re not in the Seanad or Dail that they don’t have privilege.

If I were a member of that tendering team or a senior member of Bord Gais I might be calling my libel lawyer tonight with a view to responding to the allegation that Bord Gais misled them. I think that is a very, very serious charge from a senior member of government to suggest that Bord Gais misled them.

O’hEadhra: Unless you have evidence to back it up.

Senator Whelan: The evidence is that the thing is a shambles, it doesn’t work.

O’hEadhra: But that’s not good enough, you’re saying they misled.

Senator Whelan: Don’t put words in my mouth, what I’m saying is, they made a tendering pitch saying that they could deliver and they didn’t.

Non-relevant dialogue.

O’hEadhra: Hold on a second. You made a very, very serious allegation.

Senator Whelan: And I stand over it.

O’hEadhra: I am asking, if you do, this programme requires evidence to substantiate that allegation, otherwise you have to withdraw it.

Senator Whelan: No I won’t. Is the evidence not clear to you all around you? Irish Water is not functioning, it’s a shambles, it’s not fit for purpose and that’s why we have to go back in and put things right.

O’hEadhra: John, I’m saying to you that as a programme, we disassociate ourselves from your comments unless you have evidence. You need to present the evidence to substantiate your allegation.

Senator Whelan: I’m going to say to you again that I argued at the time that Bord Na Mona would have been a better fit to establish a water utility.

Non-relevant dialogue.

O’hEadhra: You’re the one making allegations.

Senator Whelan: And I stand over them.

Non-relevant dialogue.

O’hEadhra: Ok, well they’re your allegations, they’re not ours. Obviously we can’t stand over whatever you say, without evidence we can’t even judge it.

Copy to:

RTE Late Debate
Senator Whelan
All political parties

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A major news story broke live on RTE’s Late Debate last Wednesday concerning Irish Water.

Unfortunately, the story suffered a quick death, principally I believe, because of the manner in which it was handled by RTE.

Labour Senator John Whelan claimed that Irish Water had misled the Government over the establishment of the organisation.

The presenter of the show, Cormac O’hEadhra, was astonished by the revelation and questioned the senator closely on his claim.

The senator repeated his claim and said he stood by every word. The presenter, clearly aware of the gravity of the claim, uttered the standard RTE response to protect the station against any possible legal action – RTE distances itself from the claims you are making…etc,etc.

In my opinion the presenter/RTE had no need to take such a precaution.

As a member of the Oireachtas and as a member of a government party Senator Whelan was revealing, for the first time, a very important fact (as he believed) about one of the most contentious issues in recent history. It was a major and completely legitimate news story.

Unfortunately, RTE did not see it that way.

The following morning I accessed the Late Debate website to quote Senator Whelan on this blog. To my surprise, the relevant section of the discussion had been removed by RTE. After a week of trying to obtain an explanation I finally made contact today and was told that.

An editorial decision was taken to take the piece down for all concerned. It was decided that there were potential issues that could exasperate something negative.

In my opinion this is total rubbish. I don’t think RTE censored this particular item to protect Irish Water or the Government although, in effect, that was the outcome.

I think the decision was made out of panic either because of a possible but highly unlikely legal action by Irish Water or, more likely, a fear of political revenge on the broadcaster.

I have a habit of occasionally taping programmes so that I can quote back on this blog. Now, because I’ve lost trust in RTEs judgement particularly when it comes to politicians, I will be taping all RTE current affairs programmes to avoid the censor’s scissors.

Copy to:
Late Debate
Senator Whelan

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I often wondered why then minister and leader of the Progressive Democrats, Mary Harney, suddenly shut down the Ansbacher investigation in 2004.

Perhaps the following question, put to Enda Kenny by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald, explains Harney’s decision.

Do you believe Mr. Ryan (the whistleblower) when he says that his investigation that was shut down by Mary Harney when he uncovered names of senior politicians from the Progressive Democrats, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, that they held offshore accounts, revelations that would have been most uncomfortable for the political establishment?

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Letter in yesterday’s Irish Times

‘Love/Hate’ and drama

Sir,

Judging from all the media coverage for the drama series Love/Hate, including in The Irish Times, it was by all accounts one of the most successful ever undertaken by RTÉ. There is no doubt that the characters in the series, drawn from working-class areas of Dublin, mirror those in real life, whose activities have devastated many a community throughout the country.

What a pity that RTÉ has never broadcast a series featuring the criminal activities of those politicians, bankers, developers and others from districts such as Dublin 4 and other affluent areas in the city and other parts of the country.

Could RTÉ create a series about these criminals who destroyed our county and ruined countless lives? Undoubtedly.
Would they be let? Never.

Yours, etc,

Bernard Neary
Dublin 7.

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Letter in yesterday’s Irish Times.

The Economic Management Council is just one of the indications of how our country is gradually losing any democratic accountability.

Economic Management Council

Sir,

Eoghan Murphy TD (“Fine Gael promised political reform, but the Government hasn’t delivered”, Opinion & Analysis, November 5th) and Noel Whelan (“How the Economic Management Council undermines Cabinet and Government”, Opinion & Analysis, November 7th) make some excellent points about the pretentiously named Economic Management Council (EMC), in particular in respect of the gradual expansion of its remit.

In April 2011 shortly after the EMC was established, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that it would deal with “economic planning and budgetary matters, the economic recovery programme including the representation of Ireland internationally in negotiations with the troika, the integration of the work of departments and agencies and the co-ordination of banking policy”.

Can someone explain how water services, an environmental matter previously under the remit of local government, came within this remit? The EMC has apparently been considering this issue since last April, clearly not to much avail.

The primary concern which has been raised is that the EMC acts as a government within a government, coming to conclusions on issues which are then presented to the Cabinet as faits accomplis for rubber-stamping.

This raises the prospect that civil servants and political advisers who attend EMC meetings have more impact on important decisions than the democratically elected members of Cabinet who are excluded from meetings.

This is further compounded by the 50:50 division of the EMC between Fine Gael and Labour Ministers, compared to 2:1 majority in favour of Fine Gael at Cabinet level and a similar division in terms of their respective representation in the Dáil. In other words, the Labour Party has a disproportionate influence over the decisions of the EMC relative to what it ought to be entitled to and, as a result, over the decisions of Government as a whole.

If these impressions about the operations of the EMC are to be dispelled, then the Dáil ought surely be made aware of instances where the Cabinet as a whole has rejected or overturned a recommendation made by the EMC. To date, however, no such instance has been publicly acknowledged.

Yours, etc,

Thomas Ryan, BL
Dublin 6W

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I tuned into RTEs John Murray Show yesterday morning where the discussion centred on some fictional series called Love/Hate.

Murray and his guest were very excited about the horror featured in the show and wondered would there be another series.

Having never watched an episode of the show I got bored and switched over to another channel for the news but, to my amazement, the same fictional series was been seriously reported and analysed as if it was real – on news programmes for feck sake.

And so it was throughout the day, Newstalk, Today FM, RTE, Liveline, Drivetime, News at One, Six One News and many more, all reporting, analysing, debating, anguishing, speculating who will die next, will there be another series.

The producer, actors, RTE’s head of drama and whoever you’re having yourself were all interviewed at length as to their reaction to this fictional programme.

Actors spoke in shock about the horror they felt as they acted, I stress, acted, in the programme, commentators wondered would the actors/viewers need psychological help in dealing with the fiction, I stress, fiction.

In our bizarre state fiction had finally merged with what passes for reality.

I wondered why and, very quickly, the answer came as I listened to reports of the latest political scandal involving allegations of serious tax evasion by senior politicians.

The family of former Fine Gael TD, Attorney General and High Court judge, Declan Costello claimed he had ‘forgotten’ he had a Guinness and Mahon bank account and he never did anything wrong anyway so stop asking question.

Then I heard the Minister for Enterprise and Jobs, Richard Bruton, without the slightest sign of embarrassment, tell the nation that the witness statement he received from the whistle blower, which contained very serious allegations against senior politicians and state agencies like Revenue, the Gardai and the Office of Corporate Enforcement, remained hidden in his office for two full years because someone in the department had retired.

And I thought to myself – No, the nation’s media treating a fictional series as if it was real is not really all that surprising.

In fact, it’s more rational than the horrific reality we suffer every day under the jackboot of our corrupt body politic.

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