‘Please note, although this controversy occurred over a month ago and was the subject of an excellent article by Vanessa Foran, I believe the hostile reaction by mainstream media to Paddy Cosgrave’s anti-corruption campaigning deserves as much coverage as possible.’
The target of Clifford’s attack was entrepreneur and anti-corruption campaigner Paddy Cosgrave.
Cosgrave is co-founder of the hugely successful Web Summit and used that platform at this year’s event to highlight very serious allegations of corruption against then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The allegations, published by Village Magazine, claims that Varadkar illegally leaked a confidential document related to negotiations for a new General Practitioner contract. The allegations are so serious that Varadkar is now the subject of a criminal investigation.
Cosgrave brilliantly used the event, attended by 43,000 people from 128 countries, to expose to the world the rot that lies at the heart of Ireland’s governance.
Clifford focused his attack on Cosgrave and whistleblower Bowes. He openly questioned Bowes integrity by comparing his courage to the guest of honour at the event, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.
To present the whole farrago as an introduction to Ms Haugen, a genuine, courageous whistleblower, was arguably insulting to her.
Clearly, Clifford does not believe that Bowes is a genuine whistleblower despite the fact that his revelations triggered a criminal investigation into the then prime minister of our country.
The journalist then attacked Cosgrave by inaccurately claiming he linked the notorious activities of Weinstein and Epstein with Varadkar’s alleged crime.
To leave open the possibility to an uninformed audience that whatever he did could be bracketed in notoriety with the activities of Weinstein and Epstein is contemptible.
Clifford then, hypocritically, did exactly what he had just [falsely] condemned Cosgrave of doing. He linked the notorious journalist, Gemma O’Doherty with Cosgrave’s actions.
Once upon a time, Gemma O’Doherty held a similar role in the public square before she took a sharp turn to the right. There is no reason in the world to believe that Paddy would follow her but you have to wonder what exactly he will do next.
So why the hypocrisy, why would Clifford insult and condemn one whistleblower and his supporter and praise another?
The answer, I believe, depends on who the whistleblower is and who they are exposing.
Ms. Haugen is an American citizen, she’s an outsider. Her whistleblowing poses no threat to those who rule the roost in Irish politics.
But, in the eyes of an establishment journalist like Clifford, Cosgrave’s relentless and effective anti-corruption campaigning is a direct threat to the power of the ruling political class that he and his newspaper so strongly support.
And Clifford himself, helpfully, provides the evidence for the truth of this claim.
In defence of Varadkar he writes:
He [Varadkar] was stupid rather than corrupt and he may have broken the law but there was no personal gain in it for him.
If it was just a case of stupidity on Varadkar’s part then surely we can expect the Gardai to drop their criminal investigation now that this journalist has delivered his judgement on the case?
It also appears that Clifford does not believe that political corruption is a crime. How else can we reconcile his view that ‘Varadkar may have broken the law but he’s not corrupt’?
Even more bizarre, particularly for a journalist, is Clifford’s suggestion that there should be no accountability if there was no personal gain in the crime.
Coveney is not a crooked politician, McConnell told the nation adding –
The true scandal here has been Coveney and Fine Gael’s utter failure to kill this off long before now.
Here we have a journalist, the political editor of one of the most influential newspapers in the country suggesting that the ‘killing off’ of a serious scandal involving cronyism and possible law breaking should take precedence over political accountability.
I wrote before about the disturbing malaise that’s eating away at standards in Irish journalism. Clifford’s intemperate and biased rant is a particularly nasty example of that malaise.
On September 23 last I submitted a complaint to Cobh Gardai regarding the alleged criminal leaking of information at Cabinet table discussions. Over the years I have submitted a number of similar complaints regarding alleged political corruption.
I do not submit these complaints with the expectation that those suspected of corruption/criminality will face charges or even be investigated.
Irish citizens will be painfully aware that when it comes to political corruption the wheels of justice remain rusted to the tracks.
The principal reason for submitting the complaints is to substantiate my belief that we live in a dysfunctional democracy where the rich and powerful are allowed to operate outside the law.
I was therefore surprised and delighted to get a telephone call from Cobh Gardai requesting my presence in the station to make a statement regarding the complaint.
It would appear that somebody in Garda Headquarters has decided that the matter warrants investigation.
Could it be that those rusty wheels are beginning to move?
The issue was housing and O’Brien was telling the nation that house prices and rents were declining and that people should stop catastrophising everything.
It’s astonishing that O’Brien, the chief economist with the Institute of International & European Affairs, is so ignorant of the extent and causes of the housing crisis.
Ms. Nolan also admitted that she didn’t fully understand the underlying reasons but during the discussion she uttered two words that come into common use when a political system becomes hopelessly corrupt – treason and revolution.
Government policy on housing is tantamount to treason
Why treason, O’Connor asked in surprise?
Her reply [paraphrased]:
Because the government has betrayed the people by ignoring their needs in favour of facilitating profit for private landlords.
She’s not the only person to hold this opinion. Here’s Dr. Rory Hearne, Assistant Professor of Social Policy at Maynooth University:
Rising rents is Government policy, and has been since 2011, in order to attract the vulture and real estate investor funds and raise property values to benefit banks.
Ms. Nolan outlined her personal position in stark terms:
I’m in the professions, I work 52 weeks of the year and I am nowhere near to being able to buy a one bedroom apartment for me and my son, and that is wrong. There will be a revolution on this soon if it isn’t fixed.
O’Brien, in a further demonstration of his ignorance, asked Ms. Nolan:
Why would any government who wants to win votes have a policy to make housing more expensive?
Nolan admitted she didn’t know but then, unwittingly, provided the answer:
They wanted the rents to go higher and it is now out of control and everybody’s being affected. It didn’t matter so much when it was a certain class being affected, that’s not my view but I notice that socially…and now that it’s moving up the ladder, it’s affecting middle class people with good wages.
As Ms. Nolan says, things have got out of control. The disease of corruption has debased the political system to such an extent that there is now only one policy – ensure that house prices and rents continue to soar in order to feed the greed of the rich few. That policy, long inflicted on the poor, is now beginning to destroy the wealth of the middle class.
All corrupt regimes exploit and abuse the powerless poor at the bottom of the pile principally by denying basic rights and inflicting oppressive taxes.
European aristocracies engaged in this despotism for centuries until an emerging merchant/middle class found it necessary to begin cutting off heads in order to gain power and respect.
Ms. Nolan describes herself as being ‘in the professions’. In other words, she [accurately] sees herself as middle class. And it is the middle class that invariably leads the people in destroying corrupt political regimes.
When the middle class begin to [correctly] describe government as treasonous and suggest revolution as a possibility then a bout of head rolling cannot be far away.
The political administration of Ireland is corrupt. There’s an endless list of examples of such corruption stretching down through the decades but there is no need to delve into the past to make the point.
We only have to note that serious criminality occurs on an ongoing basis at the very heart of our democracy. A small group of just 18 citizens [ministers] wields executive power on behalf of the people. Under the Constitution it is a criminal offence for any of these ministers to breach Cabinet confidentiality.
We know this law has been broken in the case of the proposed appointment of Catherine Zappone. We also know that no member of the Cabinet has acted to protect the integrity of the Constitution by bringing the minister[s] involved to justice.
With this in mind I have submitted the following report to An Garda Siochana [Cobh] requesting that they investigate the alleged crime.
For attention of:
An Garda Siochana – Cobh
22 September 2021
I wish to report a number of allegations concerning breaches of Cabinet confidentiality as laid down in Article 28.4 of the Constitution.
That a minister in the current Cabinet illegally leaked information to a media source concerning the Katherine Zappone appointment.
I submit the following information in support of this allegation.
Mr. Ross admitted he did not seek a High Court ruling to reveal details of Cabinet meetings as required under the Constitution. He justified his action with the following comment:
”I don’t expect there will be any prosecutions, either, as the precedent is there for them having done this.”
Mr. Ross further revealed that leaks were a big issue when he served as minister and revealed an incident concerning Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
”The result of that was one day Simon Coveney said,
This item we are now discussing, okay, it is out on RTÉ already what is being said at this cabinet meeting.’’
Relevant section of the Constitution:
Inserted a new subsection in Article 28.4:
3º The confidentiality of discussions at meetings of the Government shall be respected in all circumstances save only where the High Court determines that disclosure should be made in respect of a particular matter-
i. in the interests of the administration of justice by a Court, or
ii. by virtue of an overriding public interest, pursuant to an application in that behalf by a tribunal appointed by the Government or a Minister of the Government on the authority of the Houses of the Oireachtas to inquire into a matter stated by them to be of public importance.
I request that this matter be investigated as a matter of urgency.
Green Party TD Catherine Martin is unfit to represent the people of Ireland. On Thursday 2 September she cashed in her political integrity when RTEs Claire Byrne asked her how she felt about the abuse of Cabinet confidentiality.
I think that’s an internal matter for Fine Gael.
This is a lie because Ms. Martin knows that breaching Cabinet confidentiality is a criminal act and that she, as a cabinet minister, is not only obliged to acknowledge the crime but to act on that knowledge.
By failing to act Ms. Martin has tainted the seal of office bestowed on her by the people of Ireland and thrown in her lot with the cabal of political shysters who have inflicted so much damage on Ireland over the decades.
Whenever an individual or party decides to enter government in Ireland they must make a choice. Challenge and expose the rot eating away at the core of the state or abandon all principles and collaborate with those who have no regard for democracy or the interests of the country.
Clearly, Ms Martin has chosen the latter. It’s likely that her motives are based on the genuine but naïve belief that the end justifies the means. That the implementation of her party’s political agenda is worth the abandonment of her political principles – if so, she is seriously wrong in that belief.
Ireland is not a normal democratic state. The disease of political corruption has polluted the administration of the state to such an extent that all who associate themselves with the diseased become diseased themselves.
This disease must first be eradicated before our country has any hope of becoming a healthy democracy. For that to happen good people must deploy the weapons of courage and principle against the political shysters.
Ms. Martin’s failure to do so will see the people remove her and her party from power at the first opportunity.
Copy to Catherine Martin
Relevant section of interview with Minister Martin.
Claire Byrne: How do you feel about Cabinet confidentiality being abused?
Catherine Martin: I think that’s an internal matter for Fine Gael.
Byrne: But it’s not just a matter for one party, it’s a very serious matter for government.
Martin: And that’s why I’m saying I’m not happy with the process. I hope lessons are learned and transparency is put in place.
Byrne: But when it comes to the leak, that’s a criminal offence?
Martin: That’s an issue for, you know, that is absolutely unacceptable that leaks would happen like that but it’s up to that individual…interrupted.
Byrne: No, it’s not, it’s a really serious matter for government, it’s a really serious matter for the entire cabinet and a really serious matter for you as a member of that cabinet.
Martin: It is and it’s a really unnecessary distraction from… blah, blah, blah…
There’s a constant stream of articles by mainstream journalists struggling to explain why the political establishment they so loyally serve, continues to lose popular support.
The articles all take similar form.
A brief history of the failing fortunes of their favoured party, be it Fine Gael, Fianna Fail or Labour. Sometimes we’re presented with bizarre reasons for the collapse in support for these parties but more often than not, no explanation whatsoever is given.
In place of truth and reality these journalists invariably resort to delusional analysis.
Writing about Fianna Fail’s continuing decline, he makes the following points without providing any explanation or analysis.
The rapidly changing nature of Irish society [forced] Fine Gael and Fianna Fail into coalition.
The 85% vote received by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in the 1982 election was halved by 2020.
Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald, will almost certainly be the next Taoiseach.
So here, briefly, is the reason for the above developments which McGee fears to address.
It was not the changing nature of Irish society that led Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to form a coalition. It was an act of desperation by both parties to hold onto the power and privilege they have enjoyed for decades.
The continuing fall in support for the parties of the centre between 1982 and 2020 is a direct consequence of the incompetence, arrogance and corruption of the ruling political class.
McDonald is likely to be the next Taoiseach because the people are desperate to get rid of the current corrupt political class. The people want radical change, that’s what they have been voting for over the past several elections.
Establishment journalists do not see this because they operate within the same bubble occupied by the ruling political class.
So, instead of exposing the rot at the centre of Irish politics, journalists such as McGee resort to attacking those who are challenging the old, dying regime. Sinn Fein, because it poses the greatest threat to the power of that regime, is usually the prime target.
McGee’s analysis is both amateurish and delusional. He claims that a section of the electorate is strongly opposed to a Sinn Fein led government because of
The horrible, inhumane and cruel things the republican movement did during the troubles for which there were no grounds to claim justification.
There is no doubt that there are many opposed to a Sinn Fein led government because of what happened during the troubles but for a journalist to make such a political point without a balancing context, is to indulge in cheap propaganda.
For example, an unbiased journalist would balance the activities of the republican movement with the ruthless apartheid system operated by Unionists over a period of 50 years.
Next, he praises the openness of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail’s weekly parliamentary meetings and condemns the so-called secrecy of Sinn Fein meetings, suggesting that the party is acting undemocratically.
Of course, McGee knows very well that all political parties strive to keep their weekly meetings private. The only reason we know what goes on at FG/FF meetings is because they leak like a sieve. He also knows that the leaks are a reflection of the rancour and disunity within these two parties while Sinn Fein’s success in keeping their deliberations confidential is an indication of the party’s unity of purpose.
The purpose of this fake analysis is, of course, to throw mud in the hope that some will stick. It’s an effective propaganda tool but one that is spurned by professional journalists.
McGee ends his article on a note of high arrogance when he wonders how Sinn Fein will deal with sensitive security departments if they enter government.
How will it deal with the Department of Justice, the Defence Forces and the Garda? Sinn Féin is an erstwhile enemy, there is no other way of putting it.
Actually, there is another way of putting it.
Sinn Fein is a 100% legitimate political party with massive and growing support. That support stems from the democratic power of the people who are more than willing to trust Sinn Fein representatives serving in any department.
It is the height of paternalistic arrogance for a journalist to take upon himself the notion that the people’s democratic choice should be conditional or limited in any manner, in forming a government.
In his unquestioning loyalty to the rotten centre of Irish politics McGee is blind to the fact that the people are increasingly seeing his beloved political class as the enemy and Sinn Fein as the only hope for an accountable democracy.
This type of journalism is not without consequences. Good quality political analysis is critical in a democracy. When journalists speak truth to power, political behaviour improves and democracy remains healthy.
When politicians are confident that journalists will not only defend their errant behaviour but actively attack those who challenge the rotten status quo, the political system and democracy is exposed to serious damage.
That is exactly what is happening in Ireland today.
Irish Examiner journalist Aoife Moore is not happy. The young people of Ireland are suffering because they don’t have a seat at the table [of power] she thundered in a recent article.
Focusing mainly on the youth wings of political parties Moore tells us the young are bullied, harassed, their complaints go unanswered, they’re not viewed as important, all of which is driving them away from politics.
Nothing will change, she asserts, until the grown-ups give the young a seat at the table of power.
This bizarre idea that young adults are children waiting for the ‘grown-ups’ to hand them power portrays a serious lack of understanding about the role young people play in politics.
Instead of whinging about being ignored by those at the table of power the young should be upending that table and forcibly taking their rightful place in the governance of the country.
Young people should be organised and focused in challenging the ‘grown-ups’, they should give no quarter in their determination to gain power and implement their policies.
The regular injection of political radicalism by the young is one of the mainstays of a healthy democracy.
Sadly, such political radicalism has never taken root in Ireland and forced emigration is the principal reason. The primitive economic strategy of boom and bust has always suited the ruling establishment. In boom times friends are looked after, when bust inevitably follows ordinary citizens are made to pay and forced emigration is just one of the costs.
Banishing young people to the four corners of the world removes political radicalism from the body politic thus eliminating any threat to the stale but very comfortable political establishment.
This is why successive Irish governments, unlike most other governments in the world, have staunchly refused to grant a vote to emigrants. Out of sight, out of mind and forever out of power has always been the self-interested strategy of the ruling political class when it comes to young people.
Those who remain behind are usually politically apathetic or become members of youth wings of the establishment parties. Within these ultra-conservative entities the young morph into clones of their ‘grown-ups’. They are quickly indoctrinated into the ways of political gombeenism which includes stamping out any sign of political radicalism – and so, the rotten establishment wheel continues to spin.
But change is coming as we’ve seen from recent elections but it’s not coming from the lost youth in the establishment parties that Ms Moore is so concerned about. It’s coming from outside the ruling political class, from an increasingly radicalised electorate determined to create a decent country not just for the young but for all citizens.
The political establishment that has [mis]ruled Ireland since independence is on the verge of extinction.
For clarity, here’s a good definition of the term ‘establishment’.
The ruling class or authority group in a society; especially, an entrenched authority dedicated to preserving the status quo.
An establishment’s greatest resource is the people over whom it exercises power. Its success depends on the people’s willingness to tolerate its behaviour.
When an establishment betrays the people’s trust one of two things will happen. The ruling elite will attempt to preserve its power by becoming ever more oppressive, even to the point of violence, or the people will bring it down and replace it with a new establishment that will return the balance between rulers and the ruled.
For example, abuse of power and an abject failure to respond to the needs of ordinary people trigged the French revolution in 1789. The revolution marked the beginning of the end of the divine right of kings to rule and the eventual emergence of the middle class political establishment we see in France today.
In addition to getting rid of corrupt regimes revolutions also serve to enlighten citizens to the fact that it is they, and not the ruling elite, who are the rightful owners of political power. They become aware that power flows from the bottom up, that those at the top exercise power solely on sufferance from the people. This sense of people power is as strong in France today as it was in 1789.
Unfortunately, the opposite is the case in Ireland. This is because there has never been a political revolution in our country and as a consequence there has never been a change in the mindset that sees power as belonging to the powerful.
We had a rebellion in 1916 that ultimately persuaded the British establishment, who were distracted by the brutality of WWI, that a degree of independence for Ireland within the Commonwealth was better than more war and rising criticism from the international community.
This resulted in the relatively smooth replacement of an oppressive, self-serving colonial establishment with an equally oppressive, self-serving home-grown version.
This home-grown establishment immediately set about creating a political regime that ensured the subservient mindset instilled in the population over centuries of colonialism lived on as a powerful means of political manipulation.
They created a system of gombeen clientelism where crumbs were handed out in payment for votes. Citizens were led to believe that the natural order of power in a democracy was a top down system, where the ruling establishment knew best.
This is why, unlike functional democracies, Ireland never benefitted from the healthy tension between a Left/Right political system. There was never any real political opposition in our parliament. We never witnessed political parties seriously competing with each other to promote and implement their own political ideologies for the greater good of the country.
All we got was a political ruling elite, principally made up of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, masquerading as separate political parties. They are, and always have been, one political class with one overriding ambition – to exploit the people and resources of Ireland for their own benefit. The only competition they engaged in over the decades was in the Tweedledee Tweedledum race for government where the opportunities for self-enrichment are most plentiful.
As the political establishment became weaker in recent years smaller parties such as the Progressive Democrats, Labour and, currently the Greens were recruited to support the ruling political class.
The abandonment of most, if not all, of the ideals and policies of these smaller parties was the price demanded and received in exchange for admission to the exclusive ruling elite club.
The British left-wing journalist, Owen Jones, provides the best definition of this particular type of establishment:
The establishment represents an attempt on behalf of powerful groups to “manage” democracy, to make sure that it does not threaten their own interests.
But the century long manipulation of the people and contempt for democracy by this political regime is rapidly coming to an end. Irish citizens are beginning to realise that it is they who are the rightful owners of power and not the ruling political establishment.
It is crystal clear from recent elections and polls that the people are rejecting the old regime and are demanding real change in how the country is governed. That this demand for change is being ignored not just by the political centre but also by mainstream media demonstrates just how out of touch the establishment is with this revolutionary redirection in Irish political history.
The consensus among the ruling regime is that housing, health and the economy are the reasons for their continuing loss of power, that if these problems are fixed they will survive – it is a vain hope.
While these problems are obviously of huge concern to the electorate they take second place to the demand for radical political change. People have come to realise that the old regime must be abolished and replaced with a genuinely democratic system. This change of mindset in the electorate is not a temporary phenomenon, it’s permanent – the old corrupt regime is finished.
The dramatic and historic rise in support for Sinn Fein is the most visible sign of this new emerging political landscape. But that party should take note. If it fails to radically overhaul how the state is governed, if it fails to abolish the old establishment and create a genuinely democratic balance between rulers and the ruled then it too will be rejected by the power of the newly enlightened electorate.
Any rational person listening to Sarah McInerney’s interview of Eoghan Harris could be forgiven for thinking that he suffers from an illness known as Delusional Disorder. People suffering from this mental illness are incapable of telling what’s real from what’s imagined.
In this context it is pointless responding directly to his ramblings with any seriousness. However, the failure of the establishment media to unequivocally condemn the behaviour of Harris and his collaborators is another story altogether.
Take communications guru Terry Prone for example. Writing in the Irish Examiner she was in no doubt where the blame lay.
In 50 years, nobody stopped Eoghan Harris. That’s our shame, not his.
This bizarre attempt to exonerate a favoured son of the establishment by blaming everybody, except him, suggests that Prone may also be experiencing a touch of Delusional Disorder.
But for the record and for Ms. Prone’s information somebody did notice the moment when Harris went off the rails as a journalist. Here’s an article I wrote six years ago in response to Harris’ refusal to criticise Denis O’Brien, the then owner of Independent Newspapers, during the Siteserv scandal.
Eoghan Harris: A ‘journalist’ with little integrity
On prudent reflection, I decided to take the advice of the Kerry sage, Tommy the “Kaiser” Fitzgerald: Don’t say anything, and don’t write anything, because when you put the black on the white, you are fucked boy.
What a sad end for a man who, wielding a razor sharp brain, used to tear strips from the hypocritical, arrogant and corrupt gangsters who misrule our country.
Now he’s a fully signed up toady of the rotten culture he once so brilliantly challenged. Whatever dulled his rapier like pen over the years has also dulled his mind to a state of stupidity where he effectively admits that he’s an intellectual slave to Denis O’Brien.
At least his many colleagues at ‘Independent’ Newspapers, also toadies to the master, make some effort, no matter how pathetic, at journalistic integrity.
The rest of Harris’ article accurately reflects the only ‘talent’ he still possesses – chief cheerleader for the establishment’s anti-Sinn Fein propaganda campaign. He begins this section of his article with the words:
Let me turn to a safer topic.
Propaganda is, of course, always a safe topic for a journalist because there’s no need for truth or honesty but how sad to witness any journalist actually write, in black and white, the words