Journalist Noel Whelan takes a peek into the real world

On 26 June last Irish Times establishment journalist Noel Whelan wrote an article in which he hinted that the real world was beginning to encroach on the comfortable, well insulated world of political journalism.

He wrote about the clubby relationship between politicians and journalists. He made the revolutionary suggestion that perhaps reducing the proximity of journalists to politicians might result in more critical, more objective criticism of the political system.

Ok, it’s only a tiny peek but, in fairness to Whelan, he’s the very first establishment journalist to even suggest that there’s another reality outside the comfortable, insulated world where he and his fellow journalists hog it up with mainstream politicians.

Here’s my interpretation of his article.

Irish Times correspondent Noel Whelan was enjoying his usual knees up with his political friends when, suddenly, there was an almighty bang on the door.

“Jesus, what the hell was that?”

“Relax Noel,” said Michael Noonan as he uncorked another bottle of champagne, “it’s just the peasants acting up again. They’ll calm down in a minute and if they don’t we’ll set the Guards on them; that usually does the trick.”

But Noel was worried, disturbed even. He had been attending these establishment parties for years now and while there had been rumblings from behind the reinforced doors before, he had never felt so uneasy. He decided to have a word with Frances Fitzgerald; surely the Minister for Justice would know what was going on.

“Ah Noel, is it yourself? I suppose you’re looking for a story as usual.”

“Well, no actually minister. To tell you the truth I’m a bit worried about all that noise coming from outside the fortress. Is there something happening out there that we don’t know about?”

“Now, now Noel. I knew you were looking for a story. Look, there’s my special advisor, he’s handing out the headlines today. Tell him I sent you over, he’ll give you a nice juicy story about that nasty Sinn Fein gang, it’ll make great headlines in tomorrow’s edition.”

Noel collected his story but, just as he was beginning to relax, there was a massive heave against the door and he could clearly hear some very angry shouts and curses.

Now alarmed, he ran to his friend, Taoiseach Enda.

“Enda, are you aware of what’s happening? There seems to be some very angry people outside our world, they sound very dangerous and I’m getting a bit scared.”

“There’s not a thing to be worried about Noel. It’s just the peasants getting over excited with all that supermarket drink. My minister for sticking it to drunken water protesters, Catherine Byrne, is on the case. She knows how to deal with such loutish behaviour.”

“Now toddle along Noel, I’ve a lecture to prepare for the Greeks on how to run a democracy.”

Now beginning to panic, Noel grabbed his Irish Times colleague Stephen Collins and found a clear glass window, something they had never seen before.

“Jesus,” said Collins, “what are all those things?”

“They’re ordinary people said Noel. I never met one but I remember reading about them once during my early days as a journalist.”

“Well I’ve never heard of them.” said a frightened Collins. “They look dirty, uneducated and….and…dangerous. You do what you want Noel but I’m staying in here with my political friends.”

“Yes,” said Noel, “I am too. But just to be on the safe side I’m going to write an article about these strange creatures in case they break into our world. Then I can say I knew about their existence all along.”

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Noel Whelan