The poor standard of Irish political journalism

By Anthony Sheridan

The standard of political analysis within Irish journalism is disturbingly poor.  There is one simple but very troubling reason for this. 

Most journalists are loyal members of the establishment and as a consequence refuse to even acknowledge never mind actually write about the dark, underlying reality that lies at the heart of Irish politics. 

The dark reality is that the three centrist parties, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, are not separate political parties struggling to attain power in order to implement policies for the greater good of Ireland and its people.   

The dark reality is that these three parties constitute a corrupt political class that, for the most part, works to enrich itself and those who support its agendas. 

The economic catastrophe and consequent extreme austerity inflicted on the people of Ireland by this ruling political class since 2008 has resulted in very serious damage to its credibility and as a consequence to its power. 

Labour has been virtually wiped out by an angry electorate while Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have been so damaged they have been forced into a coalition of desperation where they are engaged in a life or death struggle for political dominance.

The establishment media plays a major role in propping up the power of this corrupt political class.  Journalists do this by simply ignoring political corruption altogether or by retreating into a parallel reality.

A recent article by Irish Times journalist Pat Leahy provides us with a good example of how establishment journalists ‘analyse’ politics from within this parallel reality.    

In the article Leahy is making the point that the Left in Irish politics is not serious about achieving its political goals.  They prefer talking to doing, he says.  He goes on:

If power is impossible without compromise and personal sacrifice, they prefer the empty dance of politics without the prospect of power.

This, of course, is a ridiculous conclusion.  But such silly opinions are not unusual among journalists like Leahy because, while they can see the rot in the political system, they are not, for whatever reason, prepared to expose it. 

Clearly, Leahy doesn’t realise that the three centrist parties are a political class masquerading as separate entities.  We witness his ignorance by his use of the term  ‘go figure’  when describing how Fianna Fail and Fine Gael can operate on any point of the political spectrum without apparent scruple.

Political parties of integrity and principle do not do this.  They avoid associating with parties of opposite ideologies altogether or lay down very strict conditions for any coalition deal. 

A single ruling political class, particularly one infected with the disease of corruption, has no scruples about moving to any position on the politcal spectrum if it suits its purpose.  That’s why, for example, the Labour Party had no difficulties in collaborating with Fine Gael’s extreme right-wing austerity policies. 

Leahy further demonstrates his ignorance of the political landscape by asking the following question:

What, exactly, is the difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats apart from the fact that they cannot get along together at a personal level?

The answer, of course, is that the Labour Party is a loyal member of the corrupt ruling class.  The party sold out on its socialist principles and political integrity in 1992 when Dick Spring went into coalition with the criminal politician Haughey shortly after [accurately] describing Haughey and Fianna Fail as ‘a cancer on the body politic’.

The Social Democrats, on the other hand, represent the complete opposite of what Labour has become.  The Social Democrats came into existence as a direct result of exposing corruption within the ruling class. 

The party’s leadership know very well that they would be signing their political death warrant if they were to associate themselves with any of the parties that constitute the corrupt political class.

It is incredible and deeply disturbing that a journalist such as Leahy, who is considered an expert on political analysis, is not aware of this obvious political reality.

But, as I said at the beginning – the standard of political analysis within Irish journalism is very poor.

Copy to:

Pat Leahy

RTE bias: A failure of objective journalism

By Anthony Sheridan

Falling revenue coupled with a serious challenge from social media has in recent times prompted the establishment media to emphasise how important professional, objective and well researched journalism is to society  [See here and here for examples].

Unfortunately, these claims of high quality journalism are more fake news than fact particularly when the establishment media is reporting on those who pose a threat to the interests of the ruling political centre made up of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour.

Sinn Fein represents the greatest threat to this exclusive political club and for that reason is frequently targetted by establishment media.

RTE in particular has effectively abandoned all pretence of objectivity when it comes to interviewing Sinn Fein representatives. 

A comparison between an RTE interview with DUP leader Arlene Foster and what can only be described as the interrogation of Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on the day of the funeral of murdered journalist Myra McKee clearly exposes the blatant bias of the national broadcaster.  

Foster was interviewed on Morning Ireland in a carefully  choreographed piece that portrayed her and her party, the DUP, in a largely positive light. 

First we heard a short 37 second clip of Foster speaking earlier on BBC Radio Ulster in which she expressed her feelings during the funeral of murdered journalist Myra McKee.

RTE reporter Tommie Gorman was then invited to respond and proceeded to give a glowing account of how the DUP was ready to engage in talks but [unfortunately] Sinn Fein was adopting a strategy of caution.  

Arlene Foster was then respectfully and professionally interviewed by RTEs Gavin Jennings without interruption or bullying but also without any serious challenge of her views.  She was allowed to promote the view that she and her party were very willing to sit down with Sinn Fein [if only they would cooperate] and sort out any issues they had.  

Tommie Gorman was again invited to give his assessment of Foster’s views. He proceeded to give another glowing account of how the DUP was eager to get politics back on track in Northern Ireland and, again, concluded his analysis with a negative description of Sinn Fein’s election strategies North and South of the border.

Later on in the morning, and in stark contrast, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald was interrogated, bullied and insulted in a disgraceful display of bias by Miriam O’Callaghan/RTE on Today with Sean O’Rourke.

The interrogation was preceded by yet another clip of Arlene Foster speaking as if her only wish in life was to bring peace and harmony to the whole world.

In the fifteen minute interrogation that followed McDonald was agressively interrupted no less that 31 times.  She got to answer just one question without a bullying intervention. 

It was clear to any objective listener that O’Callaghan/RTE was not in the least bit interested in McDonald’s views but rather in trapping her into expressing a negative opinon on the question of resolving the political stalemate at Stormont. 

It was also clear that O’Callaghan/RTE were not interested in informing listeners that the DUP were responsible for the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly.  That it was the DUP who initially accepted but then walked away from a compromise agreement with Sinn Fein in 2018.

In her efforts to trap McDonald, O’Callaghan didn’t bother too much with facts.  For example, she claimed that in his sermon Fr. Magill was asking people to compromise when in fact he did no such thing.

McDonald, rightly, upbraied O’Callaghan for putting words into Fr. Magill’s mouth.

The moment of ‘victory’ for O’Callaghan/RTE came when McDonald said that Sinn Fein would not be capitulating to those [DUP] who wish to hold back progress in every form.

Triumphantly, O’Callaghan crowed:

So am I hearing – ‘Sinn Fein says NO’?

This was the whole point of the interrogation, to extract a negative soundbite from McDonald that would portray Sinn Fein as the party that was refusing to compromise on talks to restore the Assembly.

But there’s a bigger, more important reason for the constant attacks on Sinn Fein by the establishment media and that is the threat that Sinn Fein, as an outsider, poses to the power of the ruling centre of Irish politics. 

For years now, in election after election, this ruling political elite, that has done so much damage to Ireland, has been losing the trust and consequently the votes of Irish citizens. 

The weaker the political centre becomes the more strident and more blatant the attacks on all outsiders who pose a threat to its political power.  Over recent years RTE has drifted from a position of relative objective journalism to a point where many see the station as nothing more than an obedient mouthpiece for the ruling political class.

I would recommend listening to the O’Callaghan interrogation of McDonald to obtain a true sense of just how biased RTE has become.  Alternatively, take a quick scroll down the reproduced interrogation below which signposts every interruption by O’Callaghan.

Copy to:

O’Callaghan/RTE

Mary Lou McDonald

O’Callaghan:  Has anything changed in terms of policy, from any party including Sinn Fein?

McDonald:  Service for Lyra McKee was incredibly moving…those who murdered Lyra do not represent the people of Creggan…

INTERRUPTED…

O’Callaghan:  Ok, let me come back in there Mary Lou McDonald.

Fr. Magill directed very strong comments against  all politicians in the North who have responsibility for the vacuum that has arisen since the Assembly has not sat.  You as president of Sinn Fein are one of those seriously responsible he was pointing a finger at.  Do you accept that the vacuum that has been created has led to that kind of violence in Creggen?

McDonald: Well Fr. Magill hit the nail on the head yesterday. He articulated in the clearest and most uncompromising way the fact that politicians myself included need to roll up our sleeves and get cracking…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan: So what are you going to do?

McDonald: People want the institutions back, people want power-sharing and there’s no gainsaying the fact either and this isn’t an Orange or Green issue. People want equality and people…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  But Mary Lou McDonald, with respect, we all know that but for people listening this morning that is just frustrating.  Let’s be specific, are you still holding out for a stand alone Irish languge act?  Is that what’s holding up everything?

McDonald:  Can I just say Miriam…

INTERRUPTED

Callaghan:  Well I’d like you to answer that question if that’s ok.

McDonald:  I will of course answer and can I also suggest to you that the issues at play here aren’t triviliaties. I’m sure you didn’t miss the fact that those saying their goodbyes to Lyra were carrying the rainbow flag, I’m sure you haven’t missed the fact that Lyra herself was a very passionate and very effective advocate  for…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  Of course not but Mary lou McDonald, a stand alone Irish language act is trivial compared to the death of Lyra McKee.

McDonald:  Miriam, there is nothing trivial in a society that has been fractured by conflict, in a society where we need sustainable power- sharing. There is nothing trivial at all on insisting on equality and rights for every citizen…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  So you haven’t changed an iota of your position is what I’m now gathering?

McDonald:  We stand by the Good Friday Agreement and we’re not going to resile from that position and here’s the reason why.  The worst possible scenario, worse than where we are now…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  What can be worse than the murder of a 29 year old woman Mary Lou McDonald?

McDonald:  I’m not and please don’t insinuate on any level that I have in any way suggested anything other than the loss of Lyra to be absolutely outrageous, to be condemned…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  I hear that.

McDonald:  Well then if you wouldn’t mind Miriam.  You’ve invited me on to state my position…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  But you’re not answering any of my questions with respect,  I’m asking you specifically Mary Lou McDonald.  That priest yesterday Fr. Magill directed his comments at Arlene Foster, at Sinn Fein.  He wants there to be movement in the political process so murders like Lyra McKee don’t happen so I’m just asking you politely. Have you changed your position at all for instance in relation to a stand alone Irish language act?

McDonald:  And you’ve asked me policy and I assume you will allow me to politely answer.

O’Callaghan:  Yes, if you answer that question.

McDonald:  Yes, we need an Irish language act.  That comes as no surprise, that has been the case since the St. Andrew’s agreement.  Fr. Magill laid down a very, very serious challenge for us, a challenge not just to talk, not to tick boxes but a challenge to get power-sharing up and running again in a way that serves the whole community…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  But that involved compromise, doesn’t it, on everyone’s part?

McDonald: Yes, of course it does and if you listen to him Miriam you would have heard him say…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  I did.

McDonald:   …You would have heard him say that politicians need to get to work, we need sustainable government and that we need to fix the dysfunction that has marked goverance in the past, now the…

INTERRUPTED.

O’Callaghan:  But what are you going to do…[McDonald tries to finish her point…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  I hear you, but what are you going to change, in what way will you compromise and I’ll ask the same questions of the DUP.

McDonald:  The only way that you’re going to get to sustainable government is to hardwire equality.  So therefore let me tell you what needs to happens next…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  No, tell me what you’re going to do?

McDonald:  Well let me tell you what I have done and more importantly what needs to happen next…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan: No, what are you going to do in Sinn Fein?

McDonald:  Miriam, we are going to stand by the Good Friday Agreement.  I’m sure you’re listeners don’t want a rehash of the past two years…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  No, but I want to know if there’s going to be any compromise?

McDonald:  But Miriam, sorry. I obviously have to remind you that February twelve months ago there was a compromise and there was an accomodation on the table and we had landed on what I believe was a fair and balanced accomodation and unfortunately the DUP walked away from that.  So your suggestion that Sinn Fein haven’t engaged and that we haven’t been constructive is just inaccurate.  You’re…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  But just let me come back for a moment Mary Lou because it’s an interview.

So, in other words, as you said February last year those talks fell apart.  Many know at the end of the day it was because the grassroots of the DUP have a red line about a stand alone Irish language act.  Can you not in some way shift on that?  They were going to try and incorporate it perhaps in an overall arching act, is that not acceptable?

McDonald:  [Puzzled] Sure that’s what we agreed last February.

O’Callaghan:  Yeah, but as Arlene Foster said, her DUP supporters do not accept that so can you shift a little on that. 

McDonald:  So Miriam, perhaps you might observe that anything that moved the dial towards equality and inclusion and by the way none of these issues, marriage rights, language right, they’re not the sole preserve of Sinn Fein or of Nationalism.  These are equality issues and people in Northern society now understand that sustainable government is based on equality…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  So is the DUP position on marriage equality a red line issue for you in Sinn Fein as well Mary Lou McDonald, I’m just trying to clarify. 

McDonald:  I’ve heard some of the commentary around this and I challenged it before and I’m going to challenge it again.  This isn’t a football match where we chalk up one nil, two nil, five nil.  These are issues that citizens in the North really, really care about because the…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  Yeah but let me come back.  Mary Lou McDonald, to be honest, you saw the reaction yesterday, there was a standing ovation for Fr. Magill.

McDonald:  Yes…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  No, let me speak.  He wanted the politicians to get up and get the Assemply going, that requires compromise.  So all I’m trying to do this morning is try and work out your red lines.  The stand alone Irish language act obviously remains a red line.  I’m just asking you.  The DUP position on marriage equality, is that now also a red line for Sinn Fein?

McDonald:  I’m not even describing them as red lines, these are issues that need to be resolved.  I don’t think you need to dramatise it Miriam…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  Well we need a resolution, I’m trying to work out where a compromise can come.  

McDonald:  Well I was about to share my idea with you if you will allow me.  The fact that marriage equality, equal language rights, the Stormont House apparatus, that those matters need to be resolved is not new to anybody.  My god we’ve talked about these issues for months and months and months and we did land on a compromise.  We landed on a compromise and unfortunately the DUP couldn’t bring it over the line.  Those issues still need to be resolved before Lyra was murdered, before Fr. Magill spoke it was my view in any event that the DUP aren’t prepared to lift these issues and resolve these issues with us.  The governments now need to step in, they need to meet urgently.  I believe in the…INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan: No, no, let me come back. Fr. Magill spoke…

McDonald tries to continue with her point but is…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  Ok, let me come back on that.  He wasn’t speaking to the Governments, he was speaking to the politicians.  We all know that the DUP grassroots could not accept that compromise in February 2018.  What I’m trying to work out is that if you do go back even into parallel talks with the DUP will you accept that an Irish languange stand alone act even incorporated within other acts is not going to be acceptable and can you shift on that?

McDonald:  Well if you’re asking me are we going to capitulate on behalf of citizens in the North to people who wish to hold back progress in every form, to people who do not wish to make room for others in an open democratic society then the answer to that is no Miriam.  We will not capitulate on that and I would suggest to you this business of parallel processes doesn’t actually meet the challenge as articulated by Fr. Magill because the challenge is, was and remains to talk certainly…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:   So am I hearing ‘Sinn Fein’ says NO?

McDonald:  No, you’re not hearing that, we’re not the nay sayers.  We’re the people that landed on the accommodation…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  But that didn’t work at the end of the day.

McDonald:  Perhaps I’m not making myself adequately clear. Our review is not NO, our review is absolutely YES.  We need the institutions up but I am a realist…our aim is not just to tick boxes…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  OK, so just let me back in there Mary Lou McDonald.

McDonald manages to continue but is again…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  I hear that, let me come back in.  This is why I’m asking this question.  You just said you have a deeper responsibility for resolving these issues. Post that very moving ceremony yesterday, post the murder of Lyra McKee, Fr. Magill was almost pleading that all sides shifts position.  I am hearing from you if I’m correct Mary Lou McDonald that you have not shifted your position one iota.

McDonald:  No, what you heard yesterday was a call that has been made consistently right across the North in particular which is to get power-sharing back…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  That’s not what I asked you [McDonald managed to keep going]

McDonald: …and what we have said consistently…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  But you haven’t shifted at all.

McDonald:  Miriam, you’re not asking us to shift, you’re asking us…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  But Fr. Magill was asking people to compromise.

McDonald:  Sorry, I don’t think you should put words into Fr. Magill’s mouth.  That’s not what he said.  He said that we need progress…he said we need to rid ourselves of the dysfunctional pieces that haven’t worked…

INTERRUPTED

O’Callaghan:  He said, Mary Lou McDonald, why did it take the murder of a 29 year old woman for the Northern Irish politicians to meet and talk to each other.

McDonald: Well, the reality is that for just about a year there hasn’t been a substantive engagement.

Kathy Sheridan: Afraid to speak truth to power?

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

For ordinary Irish citizens, corruption is a dark, malignant everyday reality that causes endless loss and suffering. The political system, the financial sector, planning, property, you name it, corruption is rampant and routine among the top tiers of Irish society. The disease does immeasurable damage to the wealth, health and aspirations of ordinary people.

But in the warm, comfortable bubble where the establishment media happily coexist with the powerful and the corrupt, there is no such thing as corruption. Instead, there is a mysterious entity universally referred to as ‘culture’.

So, for example, there’s no corruption in our police force, our banks or our political system, just this inexplicable abstraction called ‘culture’.

And, apparently, all that’s needed to bring a halt to the massive damage caused by this mysterious ‘culture’ is the application of another magic word – ‘reform’.

So, basically, that’s all establishment journalists write or talk about, culture and reform and it’s off to the Dail bar for drinks – happy days.

But despite the availability of these magic, truth avoiding words, it can still be difficult for establishment journalists to write about corruption without actually using the dreaded ‘C’ word.

Take for example a recent article by Irish Times journalist Kathy Sheridan in which she reflects on the catastrophic economic crash of 2008 which occurred as a direct result of corruption in the political and financial sectors.

The corruption word does not, of course, make an appearance but, to her credit, the truth-avoiding ‘culture’ word only appears in the very last paragraph.

Instead, Ms. Sheridan falls back on another strategy commonly employed by those who are afraid of speaking truth to power. While ostensibly analysing the Irish economic catastrophe she focuses the bulk of her analysis on events in another country thus sparing the blushes of those who wield power in Ireland.

At the beginning of her article she accepts that the people are angry and have lost trust in the system. The bulk of the article is then filled with a long, meandering story about some American financial wizard before ending with a sermonising quote that’s probably meant, somehow, to bring  comfort to the countless victims of the rampant corruption here in Ireland.

It’s about trust, yes. It’s about culture, [oh, there’s that word] behaviour and accountability. But like almost everything that makes life bearable, it’s also about common decency.

Ah yes, common decency. Now if only establishment journalists like Ms Sheridan could bring themselves to speak truth to power, to actually use the ‘corruption’ word, to name those who peddle the disease of corruption to enrich themselves while destroying the lives of so many.

Then, I’m sure, life would be much more bearable for all of us.

Copy to:

Kathy Sheridan

Una Mullally: The youth of Ireland are on the march

 

By Anthony Sheridan

The revolution has begun. Varadkar and his cabal of gombeens are for the high jump. Their time is up as the youth of Ireland take to the streets and march on Dail Eireann to overthrow the old failed system and replace it with a bright new dawn for Irish democracy.

Sadly, there is no truth whatsoever to this fantasy view of what’s happening in Ireland today. The claim of a mass movement of young citizens on the move is nothing more than the meanderings of Irish Times columnist Una Mullally’s overly fertile imagination.

Here are some examples of Ms. Mullally’s fantasies:

Does the Government know it has a politicised generation on its hands?

A generational shift has occurred that both the political and media establishments have not yet truly grasped.

We are in newly charted territory, and young people are the cartographers.

Altruism, solidarity, and a sense of fairness seems to permeate this generation.

Their values are different from past generations, they do not put self-interest first says Mullally.

She then gives some examples of the great ‘injustices’ that motivates this ‘selfless’ youth revolutionary movement that is determined to overthrow Leo and his cabal of gombeens:

Very little development in Dublin is for young people.

New restaurants and bars are expensive and are aimed at 30 – and 40 -somethings.

Young people are watching their nightclubs being demolished for hotel developments.

Student housing built by international companies charging exorbitant rents is totally out of their reach.

Many young people have to live with their parents because they can’t afford the out-of-control rents in the city.

These examples do not sound like a national youth movement intent on overthrowing the old, failed political system but more like a demand for more nightclubs and cheaper drink.

Mullally does, of course, mention other more serious issues. The marriage equality campaign, legal abortion and the current housing campaign. She wrongly credits young people as the principal motivators in these movements.

The marriage equality and the Repeal campaigns were open door issues. Practically every political party and most of society were in favour of these reforms. It did not take any great courage or sacrifice to come out on the streets and demand reform for issues that were practically guaranteed to succeed and, more importantly, posed no threat to the interests of those who wield power in our country.

And while there is a noticeable increase in youth involvement around the housing scandal this is primarily down to the fact that the crisis is beginning to affect the interests of young people particularly students.

This was evident during the recent Take Back the Streets demonstration in Dublin. There was a large, very well organised student participation but the majority of placards were demanding housing and other benefits for students, there was nothing about challenging the corrupt political system that is responsible for the crisis.

Sadly, there is no history of organised political radicalism among the youth of Ireland. This lack of a revolutionary spirit among the young was clearly evident in the water charges campaign. This was a campaign that required real commitment, courage and stamina because it threatened the vital interests of the corrupt elite that have ruled and ruined our country for decades.

If the student unions or any other youth movement were on the streets for the anti-water charges campaign I didn’t see them. In fact, in my experience and observations the bulk of water warriors were made up of middle aged and elderly citizens many of them accompanied by children. Yes, of course, young people were involved but they did not, as Mullally claims, constitute the bulk of campaigners.

In common with all establishment journalists Ms. Mullally operates in a media bubble that has little understanding of the reality out on the streets.

If she ever manages to burst out of that bubble she will immediately realise that there is no revolutionary youth movement in Ireland and that political corruption is the sole reason for the housing catastrophe.

Copy to:

Una Mullally

 

 

RTE news bias – Destroying credibility

 

By Anthony Sheridan

When RTE was a national broadcaster the station provided a reasonably balanced news output. In recent years, however, since the station began to serve government rather than citizens, news manipulation has taken precedence over factual reporting and professional analysis.

On yesterday’s Marian Finucane Show, for example, listeners were subjected to an intelligence insulting, extremely short, cartoon-like discussion on the disturbing events that occurred on North Frederick street during the week involving Gardai and housing protesters

Panelist: In fairness, Josephine Feehily and Drew Harris came out and said, no, that shouldn’t have happened.

Finucane: And yet and yet and yet..its tough on gardai. I thought it looked… I mean I was astonished at how it had come about.

Panelist: Look, there is an issue around social media , there’s no doubt about that, but look, we expect to see people in balaclava’s in the Basque country or dealing with the Real IRA or whatever. We don’t expect to see Gardai in balaclava’s policing genuine protests about housing.

I think the public were very, very upset about it and I’m thinking of something Theo Dorgan said once ‘I thought I was born into a republic’ and you see these private balaclava-clad guards arriving in a van.

But protesting has changed, I think the Gardai are very measured in the way they handle the physical and verbal abuse they get.

Then a panelist changed the subject by referring to a protest Finucane had participated in 48 years ago. Finucane, delighted at the diversion, went on to reminisce about another protest she attended in the last century – and that was it.

That was the sum total analysis of the disgraceful and disturbing events in North Frederick street where the Gardai behaved more like second-rate nightclub bouncers than a professional police force.

Clearly under pressure by her producer to keep discussion of this embarrassing Government/Gardai scandal to an absolute minimum Finucane, in a fluster, did as she was instructed.

Mmm…well…ah…I mean..we’ll move on very quickly. I think that deserves more conversation but I’m just watching my clock here and….

Watching her clock??? The discussion was taking place just half way through a two hour long show and this major public interest story gets a grand total of 1 minute 56 seconds coverage.

This is not news analysis, it’s blatant news manipulation. No doubt, Fine Gael and the Gardai are delighted with RTEs collaboration in this type of warped current affairs analysis.

But RTE cannot escape the fact that, day by day, its reputation as a professional and balanced current affairs outlet is reaching the same zero credibility rating as that of our police force.

Copy to:

Marian Finucane Show

RTE News and Current Affairs

Why the establishment media is silent on O Cuiv’s rebellion

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Sinn Fein’s decision to field a candidate to challenge the current President has wrecked the cosy arrangement between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour to keep their man in the office.

But consider what would have happened if the following scenario had evolved. Imagine if Sinn Fein had decided to support the conservative centre and then, dramatically, a leading member of the party broke ranks and attempted to force the leadership to change its decision by putting himself forward as an independent candidate.

Here’s exactly what would have happened:

There would have been an immediate wall to wall, seven days a week attack on the party by the establishment media led by the government broadcaster, RTE.

Sinn Fein members from Mary Lou McDonald down to local councillors would be relentlessly paraded, harassed and questioned across the establishment media for reactions and explanations.

So here’s my question:

Why is the establishment media completely silent on the dramatic decision by Éamon Ó Cuív to challenge his party’s presidential election strategy by putting himself forward as an independent candidate which, by extension, constitutes a direct and very serious challenge to Michael Martin’s leadership?

Here’s the answer:

The establishment media does not serve the interests of Ireland or its people. Their loyalty lies entirely with the ruling political class made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.

The undemocratic attempt by these three parties to keep their man in the Park received strong and widespread support from the establishment media. Across radio, television and print the people were arrogantly told that they would not be getting an election, that it would be too expensive, that it would distract from Brexit and sure wasn’t ‘Michael’ doing a great job anyway.

But Sinn Fein’s strategy put a stop to all that patronising, insulting guff. Now, the establishment media has just one aim – to protect the interests of the corrupt centre of Irish politics by preventing a powerful outside force such as Sinn Fein from occupying what the ruling political class have always considered to be their personal fiefdom in the Phoenix Park.

To that end, the Irish people are about to witness the biggest, most ruthless anti-Sinn Fein propaganda campaign ever mounted by the establishment media. The campaign will, as always, be led by the cheerleader of the establishment media – the government broadcaster, RTE.

Copy to:

Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour Party, Sinn Fein

RTE/Media

Éamon Ó Cuív

Michael Clifford and the dark evils of Social Media

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford is probably correct in his suggestion that the two politicians who objected to the gender imbalance at this year’s MacGill Summer School were jumping on a bandwagon.

But, as an old school establishment journalist, Clifford just couldn’t resist jumping on his own bandwagon – to rant about the dark evils of Social Media.

Much of Clifford’s article is tongue in cheek lightness but his core message is the same at that of all establishment journalists:

Social media bad – establishment media good.

His own words make the point:

But the row over gender balance at the Glenties gabfest this week is unsettling for different reasons. The unfolding of the row is a salutary example of how narratives are formed in public discourse today.

Twitter began to tremble with rage.

Once outrage travels across cyberspace these days, there’s no calling it back. One of Twitter’s functions is to feast on righteous indignation.

Once social media gets in on the act, reason is completely dwarfed by inflated — and often manufactured — emotion.

And there are prevailing orthodoxies, which must be adhered to rigidly in every facet of public life or the trolls will descend like vultures.

Establishment journalists such as Clifford just cannot accept the reality that social media provides ordinary people, for the first time in history, with the means to directly challenge state and media power without having to first go through a filter of censorship and approval.

Copy to:

Michael Clifford

 

RTE presenter accidentally tells the truth

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Sinn Fein held their Ard Fheis last weekend amid an increasingly tense pre election atmosphere.   And because Sinn Fein poses the greatest threat to the corrupt centre of politics, the Government broadcaster RTE, was put on full propaganda alert to badmouth the party.

However, not all of the station’s presenters were paying full attention as the following hilarious incident demonstrates.

Brendan O’Conner, standing in for Marian Finucane, had just launched the standard RTE attack on Sinn Fein when one of the panelist’s, Norah Casey, strayed from the propaganda line and began to speak in high praise of Mary lou McDonald’s inspiring leadership.

O’Connor, probably dreaming about his Sunday dinner, initially didn’t seem to notice that the discussion was drifting away from the Government propaganda line. But the monitoring producer did notice and must have screamed something like the following into O’Connor’s earpiece:

Brendan, for fuck sake, wake up. That woman is praising McDonald and Sinn Fein, put a stop to it.

Confused and flustered, O’Connor struggled to get the propaganda line back on course:

Ok…eh…but now, given that this is..eh extraordinarily…for the first time, turning into a kind of love-in of Sinn Fein.

Can Mary Lou be a feminist icon given the quite recent history of Sinn Fein/IRA and the treatment of women and everything. Are people going to forget that quickly?

Laughing, Casey teased O’Connor over his confusion:

I knew I’d wake you up Brendan

While this was an amusing little incident it is noteworthy that O’Connor, in his confusion, accidentally spoke the truth:

Extraordinarily and for the first time [my emphasis] this is turning into a love-in for Sinn Fein.

And, as listeners know very well by now, it is only by accident that Sinn Fein and other anti-establishment parties will ever get a fair hearing from RTE.

Copy to:

RTE/Brendan O’Connor

Israel/Ireland: Corruption comparison

 

 

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

The ongoing corruption scandal involving the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provides a stark comparison with just how corrupt Ireland’s political/state system is.

Here’s a brief list of some of the charges against Netanyahu:

Receiving expensive gifts from wealthy businessmen in exchange for favours.

Striking an illicit deal with a newspaper in exchange for favourable political coverage.

His wife, Sara, is also under investigation accused of using government money to pay for private chefs at family events and electrical work in the family home.

In Ireland, this kind of corruption is casually accepted as part and parcel of normal political activity.

For example, it has just been revealed that the Government’s Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) paid out €1.5 million of taxpayers’ money to favoured newspapers to publish propaganda articles in favour of Fine Gael.

Or, to put it another way: The Government struck an illicit deal with newspapers in exchange for favourable political coverage.

The response to this corrupt act in Ireland was to appoint a senior government official to review the actions of senior government officials.

The response in Israel saw the police directly investigating the chief suspect, the Prime Minister. As a result of that investigation they have recommended that he be charged in a court of law. This is the norm in functional democracies.

Here are some more stark comparisons between how things are done in a functional democracy such as Israel and a corrupt state such as Ireland.

In Israel the police are independent of the political system and are therefore free to investigate political corruption.

In Ireland the police are, effectively, a branch of the political system and therefore do not investigate political corruption.

In Israel there is a specialised anti-corruption police unit.

In Ireland there is no such unit.

In Israel, all crime, including political corruption, is dealt with through police investigation and the courts.

In Ireland, there are two separate systems for dealing with crime. One for ordinary citizens that involves police, courts and punishment and another made up of tribunals, commissions and committees deliberately, and very successfully, designed to ensure there is no accountability or punishment for those with power and influence.

In Israel regulatory agencies such as the Central Bank or corporate enforcement operate independently of the political system.

In Ireland all regulatory agencies are subject to political control and influence.

In Israel the media use the word ‘corruption’ when writing and speaking about corruption.

In Ireland the word ‘corruption’ is never used by establishment media. Instead, the fuzzy word ‘culture’ is used.

So, for example, there’s no such thing as police corruption in Ireland but rather a ‘culture’ that provides journalists and politicians with a safe area in which to endlessly discuss reform of the ‘culture’ while completely ignoring the brutal reality right in front of their eyes.

In Israel, Prime Ministers and former Prime Ministers can face prison when found guilty of corruption.

In Ireland the notion that a Prime Minister or former Prime Minister would be the subject of a police investigation never mind actually do jail time is so ludicrous as to border on the insane.

 

 

Irish cowboy town and fake regulatory agencies

 

 

 

 

Elaine Byrne is, once again, writing about scandal and regulatory failure in today’s Sunday Business Post (Sub reqd). This time it’s about the failure of the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) to do its job regulating the political system. I hope to respond to her article in the next day or so.

In the meantime, I’m republishing this article (with some minor editing) I wrote in April 2015 outlining how all regulatory bodies in Ireland are, in reality, fake.

 

 

Irish cowboy town and fake regulatory agencies

2 April 2015

It’s not often a minister for justice makes me laugh but the latest comment on police reform from Frances Fitzgerald had me in stitches.

Making excuses for her complete failure to establish a police authority the minister said that, in the meantime:

“A kind of shadow board would be set up.”

Ok, let me first state an absolute fact. This government will not set up a police authority. The next government; if it is spawned from the same corrupt political/administrative culture, will not set up a police authority.

The reason is simple; the establishment of a genuinely independent police authority would end the corrupt nexus between the body politic and the police force. That corrupt nexus has served the interests of politicians, their friends in the Golden Circle and senior police officers since the foundation of the state; it will remain firmly in place for so long as that culture exists.

What we will see is the establishment of a fake police authority, an authority that from the outside looks and acts as if it’s the real thing but, in reality, is a fraud.

The setting up of fake regulatory agencies is the single greatest achievement of our corrupt political system. These fake authorities are so successful that they have not only fooled ordinary citizens, they have fooled the media, the international community and even many of the politicians who established them in the first place.

The system can best be understood by comparing it to those fake Hollywood wild west towns built to make cowboy movies.

Walking down the main street everything looks real so long as nobody actually believes there’s anything of substance behind the facades.

So, for example, when a citizen opens the door marked ‘Financial Regulator’ they find themselves in a wilderness populated by drifting tumbleweeds, each one with a tag reading – secrecy laws forbids the answering of any questions.

When the door marked ‘Standards in Public Office’ is opened citizens are met by an official endlessly chanting – Political accountability? No, never heard of it. We just dig holes in the sand and fill them in again.

When the Troika arrived they already knew there was something odd about the way things were done in this town so they opened more doors than usual.

Inside the austere and impressive door to the legal system, for example, they found mountains of stolen loot surrounded by hundreds of partying solicitors and barristers. Clear out this den of iniquity they instructed the government, we’ll be back to check on it.

When they returned a year later they failed to notice that what appeared to be a reformed legal system was actually an act performed by actors hired for the day from a nearby spaghetti western movie set. The drunken solicitors and barristers were still partying just over the hill.

Down at the end of the town there’s a brand new, freshly painted building with the title, Charity Regulator. Inside there’s a large office with an impressive array of filing cabinets, computers, desks and stern looking officials.

On closer inspection however, the files are just blank paper, the desks and computers are made of balsa wood and the officials are shop mannequins.

So what, at first glance, looks like a real regulator turns out to be nothing more than the usual cynical exercise in deception. Because this is a new regulator, no citizen has yet been damaged by its fraudulent front but, in time, thousands will inevitably suffer heavy financial loss and perhaps worse.

Irish citizens have lost faith in the State and its administrators. They know that almost all state agencies are steadfastly loyal to the corrupt political system that created them and exercises control over their activities.

The long-suffering people of Ireland are waiting for somebody to lead them in knocking down all the buildings in Irish cowboy town.

Copy to:

Frances Fitzgerald