Journalists living in the bubble of the old regime

Sean O’Rourke, Harry McGee and Elaine Byrne are all establishment journalists who have little or no awareness of the extent or source of the ongoing and dramatic shift taking place across the Irish political landscape.

This is clearly evident from the content and tone of their analysis surrounding the emergence of the new political party involving TDs Catherine Murphy, Stephen Donnelly and Roisin Shortall.

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke the journalists wondered who might join the new party, where the party might place itself on the political spectrum. Why, asked O’Rourke, would an independent want to join a political party and lose their appeal as an independent – riveting stuff.

Harry McGee spoke about the dangers of an independent losing status by joining a party. Elaine Byrne spoke about the fragmentation of Irish politics and wondered who would be the leader of the new party – scintillating analysis.

She did mention that Ireland has an unusually high number of independent representatives but she didn’t seem interested in the reason for this phenomenon – the absolute disgust and rejection by ordinary citizens of the politics of corruption that’s rampant within the mainstream parties.

O’Rourke asked his fellow journalists how they thought the independents would get on with each other on a personal basis – I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation as McGee and Byrne responded to this crucial line of analysis.

The entire discusson possessed about as much relevance to reality as three crew members of Titanic discussing the prospect of a pay rise as the ship sank beneath the icy waters of the Atlantic.

None of these establishment journalists seem to be aware that traditional Irish politics has been sinking in credibility and relevance for decades and in particular since the criminal politician Haughey began the process of infecting the body politic with the disease of corruption.

Elaine Byrne in particular, who has actually written a book on political corruption, doesn’t seem to be aware that the electorate is in the midst of a dramatic shift away from the old regime in reaction to the devastating consequences visited upon the country by political corruption.

All three journalists speak and analyse the political scene as if the rise of Sinn Fein, independents and the emergence of new political parties was simply an interesting but minor development within the old corrupt system rather than a force that has risen in response to the corruption of that regime and will almost certainly replace it.

The rise of Sinn Fein, the rise of Independents, the formation of new political parties are all directly related to the betrayal of Ireland and its people by the old, corrupt regime.

The emergence of a new politics is directly related to the fact that the old regime (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour) has, over many decades, loyally served the corrupt political culture of clientelism, gombeenism and stroke politics rather than building a functional, properly accountable democracy.

It really is fascinating to observe journalists like O’Rourke, McGee and Byrne speak and analyse the current political scene through a mindset that evolved exclusively within the old, dying, political system.

If these journalists were aware of the reality of what’s happening on the ground in politics the conversation would have gone something like the following:

O’Rourke: Harry, what do you make of this latest fragmenation of politics which has obvious connections with political corruption?

McGee: Clearly that’s the case Sean. The global financial crisis of 2008 exposed Ireland for what it is, a backwater republic misgoverned by a mainly corrupt political regime. The proliferation of independents, the rise of Sinn Fein and now the emergence of new political parties are all indications that Irish citizens have at last rejected the old regime and are desperately searching for politicians who will serve the people and the country rather than the interests of bankers, property developers and billionaire moguls.

O’Rourke: Would you go along with that view Elaine?

Byrne: Absolutely. What we are witnessing is the culmination of a long era of corruption that began when Haughey came to power in 1979. This Fine Gael/Labour government is just the latest manifestation of that culture of corruption that has done untold damage to Ireland and its people. We are, I believe, in a transition period between the fall of the old regime and the rise of a genuine, democratic type of politics. Politicians like Roisin Shortall, Catherine Murphy, Stephen Donnelly and indeed Sinn Fein are leading the way in responding to what is, in effect, a rebellion by a large percentage of the people.

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Sean O’Rourke, Harry McGee, Elaine Byrne