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.
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