Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein?

By Anthony Sheridan

In an interview with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on RTEs This Week programme, David McCullagh quizzed her about the use of the word ‘collusion’ in the Dail during nominations for a new Taoiseach.

You said the Government parties colluded in frustrating the voice of change, in what way was it collusion?

McDonald confirmed her belief that there was collusion between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael but she didn’t get much further before being interrupted by McCullah who declared triumphantly that he had looked up the word in the Oxford English dictionary.

Secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others.

This type of ‘journalism’ is bizarre and disturbing.  McCullagh/RTE picked out one word, from one person in one political party and went to the bother of researching the exact meaning of that word with the obvious intention of embarrassing the leader of that party.

McDonald made the reasonable and correct argument that the word ‘collusion’ has a far wider application in the English language.

But McCullagh was determined in his attack:

Some people would see the use of the word as almost Trumpian.

McDonald, rightly, berated him:

Don’t be ridiculous.

The grilling was continued the next day on Today with Sarah McInerney.

Speaking with Sinn Fein’s Louise O’Reilly McInerney demanded to know why McDonald had used the ‘collusion ‘ word.

As with Mary Lou McDonald, O’Reilly didn’t get far in her reply before being interrupted by McInerney who expressed her personal opinion that the word was used deliberatly by Sinn Fein.

The use of the word and this impression being given, deliberately, I think by Sinn Fein that the two parties were plotting.

O’Reilly, stating the obvious fact that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael did work together to keep Sinn Fein out was again interrupted by McInerney in her eagerness to support the establishment parties.

How do you know that, I mean they would say they came together because their party policies were more aligned than they were with yours.

As McDonald said, the word ‘collusion’ has a broad application in language but if we take McCullagh’s strict definition and apply it to his and McInerney’s behaviour we can see that the definition fits perfectly.

Secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others.

Any objective observer could be forgiven for concluding that this was a [non] story generated behind closed doors by RTE journalists with the intention of deceiving listeners into believing that Mary Lou McDonald had done something wrong.

This is not journalism, it’s not professional reporting or analysis. It appears to be the deliberate targeting of a political party that poses a challenge to the fading power of the ruling political class.

Copy to:

David McCullagh

Sarah McInerney

RTE: Propaganda ambush of Sinn Fein

By Anthony Sheridan

Former RTE broadcaster Sean O’Rourke never made a secret of his contempt for Sinn Fein.  At times his contempt bordered on outright hatred as he interrogated and insulted members of that party at every opportunity.  For O’Rourke, journalistic objectivity was never as important as keeping Sinn Fein away from the levers of power.

Sarah McInerney, O’Rourke’s replacement, seems intent on continuing in his biased footsteps.

We witnessed the latest example of this unprincipled journalism in what has become a regular RTE strategy when it come to Sinn Fein – the propaganda ambush.

The ambush followed an interview of the Sinn Fein leader by the Sunday Independent.  The Independent is a propaganda newspaper with a rabid hatred of Sinn Fein so it was no surprise that the interview was manipulated to demonise Mary Lou McDonald and her party.

Someone in RTE then, apparently, decided to follow up on the Independent’s rogue journalism by setting up their own propaganda ambush, Sarah McInerney was more than happy to cooperate.

I should make clear, this article is not about Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein or the IRA.  Those interested in how McDonald handled the interview can listen back here on the RTE website.

This article is about how media organisations with a particular agenda, such as RTE, set out to damage the credibility or reputation of certain people and organisations who are considered a threat to the political status quo.

The form and delivery of questions asked are crucial if such ambushes are to be successful.  In this case the strategy used by RTE/McInerney can be broken down into three parts.

One: Ask a question that’s impossible to answer.

Two: Repeatedly and forcibly put the question in pursuit of self-condemnation while ignoring all answers given in defence.

Three: Include a deeply emotional element to the question.

The impossible to answer question consisted of two parts:

Was the IRA justified in killing people, and, would you have taken up arms in the conflict? 

While repeatedly putting the question RTE/McInerney introduced the emotional element of the ambush by exploiting the death of a 13 year child in the conflict.

Do you really think it was justified to kill a 13 year old child?

Over three thousand people died in the Northern Ireland conflict. Tens of thousands suffered serious physical and psychological injuries. British soldiers, police officers, Unionists militia, the IRA and the British Government all engaged in the killing. 

In a propaganda ambush it is important to leave out this bigger picture because it provides objective context that could weaken the damaging impact of the strategy.

RTE/McInerney didn’t need or indeed expect McDonald to actually say the killing of children was justified in the conflict.  It was only necessary to repeatedly throw the deceitful question at her to create an impression in the minds of listeners that McDonald was being dishonestly evasive and therefore guilty in some way – damage done, mission accomplished.

We know this was a propaganda ambush because the Northern Ireland conflict ended 22 years ago with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.   To demand explanations from one party to the agreement so long after the conflict has ended without context and without demanding the same explanations from all other parties is clearly an exercise in propaganda.

Practically the entire world, including the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the vast majority of citizens in the Republic and the United Kingdom, accepted the agreement and by so doing recognised Sinn Fein as a legitimate political party that was genuinely intent on pursuing its policies by peaceful means only. 

Only two groups rejected the agreement, the Democratic Unionist Party and the political establishment in the Republic.  Fianna Fail and Fine Gael along with fellow travellers such as right wing politician Michael McDowell have never accepted what the world has accepted, that Sinn Fein is a legitimate political party.  By so doing they are, effectively, rejecting the Good Friday Agreement.

Their motive is as cynical as it is self-serving – Sinn Fein, as an outsider, poses a major threat to the exclusive power the established parties have wielded since independence.  A power they have consistently abused at great cost to the quality of Irish democracy and the interests of Irish citizens.

The Irish media, led by RTE, is overwhelmingly conservative and pro establishment.  The historic and, for the establishment, shocking public endorsement of Sinn Fein in the recent election has panicked them into abandoning all semblance of objectivity and professionalism in defence of that establishment.

Copy to:

Sarah McInerney

RTE

Mary Lou McDonald

Oliver Callan: Back in his box

By Anthony Sheridan

Comedian Oliver Callan is a confused man and his confusion is getting him into all kinds of trouble.

He’s in trouble because he doesn’t understand the difference between harmless political satire and serious political comment.

If Callan was an ordinary Joe Soap comedian his confusion would not be a problem.  But Callan is not an ordinary Joe Soap, much of his income comes from powerful sources within the establishment such as RTE and the Irish Times.

The rule is simple:  If you work for the establishment, you don’t attack the establishment.

There’s just one exception to this rule. If you’re a comedian you can slag off the establishment if, and only if, your comments are made within the strict confines of comedy.

Clearly, Callan doesn’t understand this rule.  Recently he tweeted a very strong criticism of the leader of the establishment itself – Leo Varadkar. 

The arrogance is astounding.  As covid19 kills scores and puts 500k on dole, Taoiseach [on full pay & exp] alleges without proof that workers are seeking layoffs to exploit benefits.  The SF leader gloats the crisis proves she’s ‘’right’.  Are we in  this together or not??? FFS

Somebody must have had a word in is ear.  Perhaps a call from RTE or the Irish Times or maybe even a call from the Great Leader himself.

In any case, Callan quickly deleted the tweet with the following seriously pathetic excuse.

Ok ok, so I deleted my tweet referencing Leo’s comments on welfare applicants and Mary Lou’s opinion piece in IT.  I wasn’t fair to either of them and if we are in this together, I’ll have to simmer down too.

This wimpish but unstandably self-interested climbdown was rightfully torn to shreds on twitter.

So let’s have a look at the difference between Varadkar’s comments and McDonald’s Irish Times article.

McDonald wrote a well balanced, well informed article on the current political situation focusing particularly on the disgraceful, anti-democratic exclusion of Sinn Fein from government formation talks by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

Varadkar, on the other hand, obnoxiously and without any proof accused citizens of exploiting layoff benefits.

But, according to Callan’s flaky logic, Varadkar’s vile accusation is no worse than McDonald’s reasoned political analysis. 

This is the mindset of a man running in fear of those with power to damage his interests.

All went quiet then…for a while.  Callan probably thought he was off the hook, that he was still in the establishment’s good books. 

But, once again, he made the massive error of mixing up satire with serious political comment.

In another tweet he described a speech delivered by the Great Leader as wooden and robotic. 

Clearly, Callan was not getting the message – If you work for the establishment you cannot criticise the establishment. 

To hammer home that message, the mistress of the establishment’s high moral ground was called into action, Irish Times columnist Kathy Sheridan.

Personally naming Callan, Sheridan did not mince her words:

Cheap, personal shots at politicians demean everyone involved.

Callan, at last, got the message.

In an article that would embarrass even the most toadying, most servile supporter of the establishment Callan prostrated himself in a spineless effort to regain favour.

The Great Leader, who just days before was described by Callan as  an arrogant robot, suddenly morphed into a man of passion for his country, a man who was going to deal with the [evil] ‘shinners’, a man who was determined to leave a legacy of greatness on history.  

Climbdowns as abject as this only happen after a serious slap on the wrist has been delivered.

And to copper-fasten his total allegiance to his masters, Callan jumped on the bandwagon that is the establishment’s hatred of social media, a hatred second only to its loathing for Sinn Fein:

Here’s Sheridan’s comment:

Just the kind of hot take that characterises the swamplands of social media along with idiotic #notmyTaoiseach hashtags.

And Callan’s servile parrot:

Social media…a place where the cringey hashtag ‘Not My Taoiseach’ trends with regularity.

Ah yes, I think we can safely conclude – Callan has definitely been put back in his box. 

Copy to:

Oliver Callan

Kathy Sheridan

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.

Educating Marian Finucane

By Anthony Sheridan

Marian Finucane does not know the difference between the following sentences.

The Great War

We had a great time on holiday.

In fairness, people do sometimes get confused between these two meanings of the word ‘great’ but if you’re chairing a discussion on one of the most important events in world history the very least listeners can expect is that you understand the basics.

Here’s Finucane introducing a discussion on Armistice Day, the day that marked the end of the First World War:

So Myles, tell us how the First World War ended. I, as you know, hate [with strong emphasis] when it’s called the great war. I think it was just the annihilation of millions of young boys and men and I can’t see the glory in it.

Clearly, Finucane mistakenly thinks that the ‘great’ in the Great War means great as in – ‘We had a great time on holidays’ or, ‘wasn’t it a great war, such fun and glory’. She’s outraged and puzzled as to why anybody would refer to the brutal death of millions as ‘great’.

She seems to be completely ignorant of the fact that the ‘great’ in the Great War means that the war was one of the largest, most brutal conflicts, up to that point, in world history. A conflict that witnessed the introduction of new forms of war technology such as chemical, air and tank warfare. A war that changed the course of history, that led to the collapse of empires, triggered a series of revolutions and led to the emergence of several new countries such as Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Finucane was addressing her question to Myles Dungan who, in addition to being an RTE broadcaster, is also an historian.

He didn’t seem to notice Finucane’s confused thinking but, really, he should have a quiet word in her ear. Her ignorance is not very professional.

Copy to:

Marian Finucane

Myles Dungan

 

 

 

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

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

RTE journalist Claire Byrne brings Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell to heel

 

By Anthony Sheridan

RTE journalist and Bertie Ahern admirer Claire Byrne found herself having to deal with a very nasty situation at the weekend. The incident was so serious, so obnoxious that she felt compelled to give it top priority on her weekly current affairs show, Saturday with Claire Byrne.

Never mind war, famine, political crisis or international terrorism, this was a matter so serious that the politicians on the panel were pressurised by Byrne into giving an immediate judgement on the matter despite the fact that they had no prior knowledge of what had occurred.

And what was the dreadful incident?

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell posted a satirical critique of three Fianna Fail members of the Cowen family on his Facebook page.

Farrell posted a mock up poster from the movie Back to the Future, with a picture of Barry Cowen and Michael Martin (not a member of the Cowen family) accompanied by a legitimate critique of the political policies of Ber, Brian and Barry Cowen   over the past number of decades.

Probably because of her admiration for former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern Claire Byrne was outraged by this ‘attack’ on an ‘innocent’ Fianna Fail family.

She first addressed her outrage at Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty.

Byrne: And what he’s saying in each of those instances is that the Cowen family and Fianna Fail put the interests of Fianna Fail before the interests of the country. It is below the belt stuff, isn’t it Regina, it’s pretty nasty?

What!!! A Fine Gael politician makes the political point that three Fianna Fail politicians, who coincidently happen to be members of the same family, put the interests of their party before the interests of the country.

I challenge Claire Byrne to state exactly what is wrong with that opinion. What exactly is nasty, below the belt or indeed untrue about Farrell’s very funny, 100% legitimate piece of political satire?

It really is worth looking at this broadcast in detail because it’s a good example of how far the establishment media and in particular journalists in RTE have become politicised in favour of the ruling political elite.

Byrne begins by pressurising Fine Gael TD and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty into expressing outrage over the incident despite the fact that Doherty had no knowledge whatsoever of what had occurred.

Byrne:   It is below the belt stuff Regina isn’t it, it’s pretty nasty?

Doherty: (Making an immediate, uninformed judgement).

I didn’t see it until you put it in front of me a second ago. I had to double look at it to see was it a joke or somebody else. It’s not something that I could ever subscribe to. When you actually have to revert to being personal between two politicians or two political parties, I think you’ve lost the argument, I think it’s a pity.

Clearly Doherty was afraid to challenge Byrne’s outrage so she submissively fell into line.

But Byrne was not happy with that, she wanted more.

Byrne: So will you be speaking to Alan Farrell in your role as Chief Whip about that?

Doherty, probably fearing she might be seen as disloyal to a fellow member of the political elite, reassured Byrne of her willingness to deal with Farrell’s ‘pretty nasty’ behaviour.

Doherty:  I’m not happy about it but I’ve just seen it now and I’ll talk to him later on maybe.

Byrne then turned to Fianna Fail TD Jim Callaghan who also had no knowledge whatsoever of the incident but was more than willing to fall in line with Byrne’s outrage.

Byrne: Jim have you seen this?

Callaghan: No, I haven’t.

Byrne: Here I’ll just give you a copy of it there.

Callaghan: (instantly and without reading the article) I don’t like the idea of politicians referring to the families of other politicians.

He (Farrell) shouldn’t be making personal attacks on people’s family and it’s something I’d never do and I don’t think he should do it.

Later on in the programme former Environment Minister and Labour Party TD Alan Kelly also criticised Farrell’s post, saying it was “downright stupid”.

So let’s clarify where these politicians and this RTE/Fianna Fail supporting journalist stand on the issue of political critique/satire.

They believe that it is unacceptable for any politician (in this case, Alan Farrell FG) to criticise another politician (Barry Cowen FF) by referring to other members of that politician’s family who are or were politicians (Ber and Brian Cowen FF).

So, for example, the actions and policies of Brian Cowen, without doubt the most incompetent Taoiseach in Irish history, cannot be referred to in a critque of his politician brother Barry because they’re family.

Similarily, the actions and policies of the criminal Fianna Fail politician Charles Haughey can never be used in a critique of his son Sean Haughey, because they’re family.

And so on across the many, many Irish political dynasties that have done so much damage to Ireland and its people over the decades.

This, of course, is an idiotically bizarre idea because such references, such critiques are routine and totally legitimate.

So here’s the nasty truth…

Alan Farrel committed, or was perceived to have committed, the most heinious crime any Irish establishment politican can commit – he publicily mocked a fellow member of the ruling political elite.

The exchange of jibes and insults within the confines of Leinster house is fine, all politicians know it’s just a cynical game. But to publicly lampoon a fellow member of the ruling elite, particularly on a hated social media platform like Facebook, is unforgivable.

That’s probably why RTE journalist Claire Byrne was so angry, that’s probably why she used her immensely powerful media platform to bring Farrell to heel.

And it worked.

Within minutes of Byrne’s strong disapporval at this insult to her beloved Fianna Fail, the cowardly Alan Farrell removed the offending article from his Facebook page.

A disturbing example of the power of the establishment media.

 

Copy to:

Claire Byrne

Alan Farrell

Regina Doherty

Jim Callaghan

Alan Kelly

RTE complaints

RTE News and Current Affairs

Fianna Fail

Fine Gael

Formal complaint against RTE for bias

 

media-bias-in-action

By Anthony Sheridan

To Whom It May Concern:

I wish to lodge a formal complaint against RTE for breach of its Public Service Statement 2015.

My complaint centres on the biased panel selection on the Marian Finucane Show as broadcast on Sunday 4 September last.

Specifically, my complaint concerns the unbalanced and unchallenged views expressed during the discussion surrounding the Apple tax scandal.

The panel members were as follows:

Michael McDowell: Independent Senator and former Tanaiste and Minister for Justice.

Suzanne Kelly: Tax lawyer.

John McGuinness: Fianna Fail TD

Patsy McGarry: Irish Times Religious Affairs Correspondent.

Diarmuid Ferriter: Professor of Modern History at UCD.

It is reasonable to describe all the panel members and the presenter, Ms Finucane, as individuals with conservative views that are mainly in line with the governing establishment.

It is also reasonable to describe the two politicians on the panel as public representatives with strong and uncompromising views on the political outlook of those who oppose the Government’s response to the Apple tax scandal.

Left wing political parties such as Sinn Fein, Anti-Austerity Alliance, People Before Profit and others who represent a significant percentage of the population were, by their exclusion, prevented from expressing a contrary view.

This is in breach of RTEs Public Service Statement 2015.

I quote:

Ensuring its treatment of current affairs and matters of public controversy, in addition to being impartial and objective, is fair to all interests.

It is also clear that RTE management is very well aware of the major changes taking place within Irish society.

I quote:

RTÉ today sits within a society, economy and media environment that is changing; and changing rapidly. Recent years have shaken public confidence in institutions and traditional authority.

Despite this awareness, or perhaps because of it, RTE management seems to be abandoning its objectivity and professionalism in favour of taking the side of State/Government.

The apparent packing of a discussion panel in favour of one side of the debate is also in breach of RTEs duty in law to be impartial.

I quote:

RTÉ has a duty in law to be accurate, fair and impartial, and to remain independent from all state, political and commercial influences.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Sheridan