Diarmaid Ferriter: Denial and the language of cute hoorism

 

By Anthony Sheridan

This article is dedicated to the millions of Irish citizens who have suffered and continue to suffer because of the absolute refusal of Irish journalists and commentators to call a spade a spade.

The spade in this instance is the disease of political corruption and how that disease has infected every aspect of how our country is governed.

The commentator in this instance is historian Diarmaid Ferriter.

Ferriter is a highly regarded academic, a man who is steeped in the study and history of Irish politics, a man who regularly frequents the airwaves and print media delivering his opinion and analysis on current and past events and in particular on current and past political events.

Because individuals like Ferriter are highly respected they have a profound influence on how people think, how they form their opinions, how they understand what’s happening in politics and in the country in general.

When such influential individuals fail to understand the reality of how our country is (mis) governed they do serious damage to any hope of rectifying the situation. They become, in effect, part of the problem.

Political corruption is the most serious problem facing our country today. Political corruption lies at the core of almost all that is rotten in our country. Political corruption should be front and centre in the minds of every single journalist and commentator who writes or speaks about what is happening in our country today.

And yet, the word ‘corruption’ is rarely uttered or written, the term ‘political corruption’ is avoided like the plague by mainstream media and political commentators. Political corruption is never, ever the subject of a major, stand-alone documentary by any media outlet.

Ferriter provides us with the most recent example of this depressing fear of calling a spade a spade. In a 900-word article on the subject of political corruption he manages to avoid using the word even once.

Even the headline avoids the reality.

Diarmaid Ferriter: cute hoorism has cast a long shadow.

Cute hoorism is not proper English; it is a meaningless term in the broader world. It is strictly an Irish term with just one function – to avoid calling a spade a spade.

It serves just one psychological function for those in denial – If I don’t write or utter the term ‘political corruption’ then I don’t have to acknowledge its existence and therefore I don’t have to identify those responsible for the disease.

Opinion makers and in particular academic opinion makers should use proper, accurate and powerful words to drill right down to the heart of very serious problems such as political corruption.

Ferriter’s headline should read:

Diarmaid Ferriter: Political corruption has cast a long shadow.

In common with most other commentators Ferriter knows there is something very seriously wrong with Irish politics but is not prepared to state the brutal truth – our political system is intrinsically corrupt, it is beyond repair, it is the principal reason our country has morphed into the status of failed state.

Instead of identifying and criticising those responsible, the ruling political elite principally made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour, Ferriter, in common with many other deniers, blames the ordinary people of Ireland.

They (the people) were only too happy to embrace the abolition of rates that finished off all pretence of autonomous local government, enhanced an unhealthy concentration of power at the centre and had serious consequences for the funding of local services.

He goes on to confirm his total misunderstanding of today’s political realities by completely misreading the reasons for the rise of the water protest movement. While acknowledging that the rebellion against Irish Water was justified he asserts that the issues that triggered the protest were – charges, pollution, fairness and conservation.

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong again.

Political corruption and betrayal was and still is the overwhelming reason for the rebellion against water charges. A significant and growing percentage of the population have lost faith in the political system and by extension, state authority.

Quoting Arthur Griffith, Ferriter writes of individuals, operating in an imaginary Ireland, disparaging those making serious efforts to resolve serious national problems.

Pious patriots praised an imaginary medieval Ireland and then wondered why Ireland was decaying around them but were determined to preserve their picturesque ignorance:

Ferriter is writing about himself. He operates in an imaginary Ireland that still believes the old corrupt political regime is fit for purpose, that it works for the good of the people and the country. That is why he cannot bring himself to utter the dreadful ‘corruption’ word, it would mean acknowledging and therefore having to deal with the brutal reality of a hopelessly corrupt political system.

Here’s my interpretation of the above quote as it applies to Ferriter and other commentators who cannot or will not acknowledge the brutal reality of our corrupt political system.

Delusional commentators praise and defend an imaginary democracy and endlessly wonder why that democracy continues to decay around them. In order to preserve their picturesque ignorance they insist on only writing and speaking in the language of cute hoorism.

Copy to:

Diarmaid Ferriter

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

Is the establishment media finally waking up to political corruption?

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Well Halle…fucking…lujah (excuse my French) somebody in the establishment media woke up, shook the sleep from their eyes and, catching a glimpse of reality, exclaimed – what the fuck is going on around here?

I strongly recommend the countless victims of Irish political corruption to read today’s editorial in the Irish Examiner. The actual word ‘corruption’ is used in reference to how the country is run. The word ‘cancer’ is used to describe the (corrupt elite) social order of the country. The mafia word ‘omerta’ is used in relation to how public institutions operate in what the writer coyly describes as our ‘dishonest republic’.

But the most amazing aspect of this never heard of before honesty from an establishment newspaper is the absence of any blame on the ‘sinister fringe’ of the water protest movement and not even a mention of ‘evil’ Sinn Fein.

What’s going on, could it be that at long, long last the establishment media is finally beginning to realise the truth, finally beginning to see that the rot and corruption that has destroyed our country has its source in the political establishment that is almost universally supported by that very media?

But there’s still some puzzlement, still some uncertainty surrounding the brutal reality that our political system is irredeemably corrupt.

It is difficult to understand why we have allowed this nasty, destructive culture prevail, why we tolerate a kind of passive-aggressive corruption wilfully deployed to conceal (the truth).

It is not ‘we’ who do not understand. The majority of Irish citizens are only too well aware of who is responsible for the crimes inflicted upon them over the decades – the corrupt political system.

The ‘we’ the writer should be addressing is the establishment media who have shown total loyalty and support for the criminal politicians who have plundered the wealth of the nation and dragged its good name through the mud.

Copy to:

Irish Examiner

Fergus Finlay: Hypocrite

 

By Anthony Sheridan

I genuinely felt like getting sick as I read Fergus Finlay’s ‘letter’ to Maurice McCabe in last Tuesday’s Irish Examiner. I have never read such a sickeningly patronising, grossly insulting attempt at excusing the diseased political/administrative system that has inflicted so much suffering and despair on the people of Ireland.

Before commenting on this disgraceful example of rank hypocrisy it will be useful to know something of Finlay’s background.

He is a loyal, unapologetic supporter of the rotten establishment that has destroyed our country, the same establishment that has destroyed the lives of Maurice McCabe and his family.

He is a loyal supporter of the Labour Party, the party that has been betraying Ireland and its people since, at least, 1992 when Dick Spring went into coalition with the criminal politician Haughey.

This was after Spring, having rightly accused Haughey of being ‘a cancer in the body politic’, promised the Irish people that he would remove the cancer of corruption. Fergus Finlay was a political advisor to Dick Spring when the decision to enter coalition with the corrupt Haughey was made.

This is the man who now has the gall to write a letter to Sgt. McCabe on behalf of the Irish people. This is a man operating under the delusion that Sgt. McCabe might be grateful for receiving some new insight into the nightmare that has consumed his life for nearly a decade.

Here’s a sample of the sickly, patronising waffle written by Finlay:

Dear Sgt. McCabe,

You deserve our gratitude.

You’ve more than earned your title of Sergeant, a title that has always earned respect in Ireland.

You’ve tried to do your job to the best of your ability.

We’ve seen how you and your wife and children have suffered.

You have spoken the truth to power…despite unbearable pressure, without flinching. You’ve tried to serve the interests of the public the best way you know how.

I sincerely hope that Maurice McCabe never gets to read this mush written by a man who is long on meaningless platitudes but zero on challenging the political corruption that is the ultimate source of Maurice McCabe’s horrific treatment.

Rank hypocrisy comes naturally to establishment figures like Finlay. This is crystal clear when we witness his nauseating defence of some of those responsible for McCabe’s nightmare.

Writing about the file that was used to destroy McCabe, Finlay is critical of the ‘system’ but not of those responsible – he writes:

The first instinct of some people (my emphasis) in the HSE is to cover up.

Having placed the blame on some vague, unidentified, unaccountable people in the HSE Finlay then strongly supports those who are actually responsible.

I have faith in the senior management of the HSE. I believe people like Tony O’Brien (Director General of HSE) have tried as hard as they could to change the culture of the organisation.

Finlay then goes on to defend Fred McBride, the CEO of Tusla, an organisation that, in a functional democracy, would be under immediate criminal investigation as a result of its actions/failures.

Fred McBride would not tolerate the sort of practice that permeates large bureaucratic systems.

So Finlay is suggesting to McCabe, the victim, that while ‘some people’ and ‘bureaucracy’ within these organisations are to blame the senior management are innocent bystanders deserving of sympathy.

Keep in mind that Finlay believes he is writing a personal/public letter of support and apology to the man whose life has been destroyed by these and other organisations.

Finlay ends his disgraceful article with a statement that bears no relationship whatsoever to the reality of how our country is misgoverned.

I believe that you will be vindicated Sgt. McCabe. I believe that justice will be done in the end and that we will know who did this.

Firstly, we already know exactly who did this – The corrupt political system that has infected agencies of the state like the HSE and the Garda Siochana is responsible.

Secondly, tribunals are nothing more than a mechanism created by our corrupt political system to sidetrack justice and accountability. This tribunal will be no different from any other. It will arrive at the same mealy-mouthed conclusion as Finlay does in his article – the system was to blame, bureaucracy was to blame – no individuals will be held to account, no justice will be done.

The depth of Finlay’s hypocrisy on this matter can be gauged by reading an article he wrote less than three months ago in which in lectured the people of Ireland for having the default position of demanding heads every time a controversy arose. It’s time we all got a grip of ourselves, he admonished; he goes on:

As for the rest of us, we need a break too, and some sense of proportion about all this stuff. “Off with their heads”, as the default response to every controversy — especially when it’s amplified a thousand times by the poisonous side of social media — is not just wildly disproportionate, it’s killing the kind of public discourse we need.

 

And here’s what he had to say about Garda Commissioner Noreen O’Sullivan, the individual at the heart of Maurice McCabe’s nightmare.

Maybe her main crime is that she’s a woman in a macho world. Whatever it is, I hope she withstands the pressure. She’s a breath of fresh air — and could do a lot more if she was given a break

I wonder if Finlay were to meet Maurice McCabe would he have to courage to say to his face – I think the Commissioner who has mistreated you so badly is a breath of fresh air, that she could do a lot more if only she was given a break.

Somehow I doubt it.

Copy to:

Fergus Finlay

Irish journalism: Suffering from a serious malaise

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By Anthony Sheridan

 

A well-informed, objective media is one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy. Journalists in a healthy democracy do not just report news and current affairs; they also have a duty to be rigidly impartial in their analysis of events.

Disturbingly, Irish journalism comes nowhere near the standards necessary to robustly challenge the State and its agents particularly when it comes to political corruption.

The recent publication of Hell at the Gates by journalists John Lee and Daniel McConnell is just the latest example of the disquietingly close and frequently grovelling relationship between the media and those who wield power within the Irish political system.

John Lee, writing about an interview he conducted with former Taoiseach Brian Cowen as part of his research for the book provides us with a good example of this cringing, extremely deferential type of journalism.

The (Irish Mail on Sunday) article is not available online so I have reproduced it in full below.

The headline gives a good indication of the tone of the article:

An astute, self-aware, intelligent man

Before making further comment on the article I want to express my opinion of Brian Cowen, an opinion that I believe is held by the majority of Irish people.

At best, Cowen is a political idiot. I do not say this as an insult (although it obviously is); I say it because it’s a simple fact. Cowen is nothing more than your typical Fianna Fail backwoodsman, gombeen politician who never had to do anything courageous or visionary to reach the apex of political power.

As a privileged member of one of the many political family dynasties that have plagued Irish politics since independence he was effectively handed power following the death of his father.

He was literally enthroned as Taoiseach by the disgraced Bertie Ahern who was forced to resign after his true pedigree was exposed at a tribunal.

But when Cowen, for the first and only occasion in his mediocre career, was called upon to show courage and vision in leading the nation he failed miserably.

As one editorial put it:

The worst Taoiseach in the history of the State.

And yet a stranger reading John Lee’s article could easily conclude that Brian Cowen was a politically intelligent, insightful and courageous man whose overriding mission in life was to promote the best interests of the Irish people.

A stranger reading the article would not see what most Irish people see.

That Cowen is a loyal member of the most corrupt political party in Ireland, the party that promotes the interests of property developers, bankers and other members of the golden circle that feed off the wealth of the Irish people.

A stranger reading the article would not see that Cowen is a loyal member of the party principally responsible for the economic disaster of 2008 that destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens.

However, a stranger who informed himself of Irish history over the past several decades would immediately recognise the rampaging elephant in the room – which is:

The Irish political system is seriously corrupt. In reaction to this political corruption a significant percentage of Irish citizens have rejected the legitimacy of the State and are in open rebellion.

A disturbingly large proportion of Irish journalists are either blissfully unaware of this dramatic shift in the political landscape or are willing collaborators in defence of the corrupt system.

Either way Irish journalism is suffering from a serious malaise that is not only bad for the profession but is having a very serious negative impact on Ireland and its people.

Copy to:

John Lee

Daniel McConnell

 

John Lee’s article – judge for yourself:

When Brian Cowen agreed to meet me for an interview for the book my colleague Daniel McConnell and I were writing, I didn’t really expect him to give anything away.

We sat on straight-back chairs at a table in a quiet corner of the Tullamore Court Hotel. I drank tea he drank mineral water. We discussed family (his brother Barry Cowen had been pivotal in securing the interview for me), mutual friends in politics, and a shared interest in golf.

When the iPhone recorder went on, he was ready. What followed was an insightful, forthright and considered summing up of his years at the top of Irish politics.

It’s said of Lyndon Johnson, that he was at his best with an audience of one. I think this applies to Cowen. He uses your first name, looks you in the eye, is exceptionally articulate and sharp. In the fog of war that engulfed Ireland during his years at the top, much of this was forgotten. Yet he understands why that is.

He spoke about how he felt the day he became Taoiseach, the enjoyment of appointing a cabinet and the brief summer of calm before all hell broke loose.

Bright man that he is, he knew there were claims about him that he had to confront. As the interview progressed I merely pointed to where we were in the chronology, and without pause he would take on the issues that he has been given so much time to think about over those preceding four years. He happily accepted he had made a mistake in not addressing the nation.

When we got to the incident at the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway in 2010, dubbed Garglegate, Mr. Cowen was also ready. He’s been crucified for it, and knew exactly what had happened – and was happy to tell his version of it, which was by no means self-serving. I had been at the Ardilaun too, and the press only asked questions about the previous night’s social session because Simon Coveney had tweeted critical remarks about Mr. Cowen’s performance on Morning Ireland.

Mr. Cowen blames Coveney for that debacle. But he proceeded for almost 10 minutes (a long time in an interview like this) to discuss his PR failures.

He revealed himself to an astute, self-aware and intelligent man.

The great pity is, perhaps, that when he was in charge he couldn’t find a way to reveal more of this side of himself to the Irish public.

 

Brian Cowen: A political idiot

By Anthony Sheridan

tricks-and-treachery

 

 

The almost complete lack of understanding of the reality of Irish politics by Irish journalists never ceases to amaze me.

Here’s Irish Independent journalist Gerard O’Regan’s take on the drinking habits of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Cowen, according to O’Regan, decided to give two fingers to those who suggested he should have been more careful of his public image.

Cowen is not and never has been somebody who rebels against the expectations of society. He’s a chronically conservative Fianna Fail backwoodsman with no notion whatsoever of how to behave while holding high office. In other words, Cowen is a political idiot.

O’Regan goes on to expresses sympathy for Cowen’s political downfall as if the former Taoiseach was an innocent victim of events totally outside of his control. As if the corrupt Fianna Fail party was not the principal reason for the catastrophic events inflicted on the Irish people in 2008.

A political career which was brutally cut off mid-stream, owing to a confluence of unforeseen and almost unimaginable events.

A vicious recession, banks on the point of collapse, the arrival of the so-called Troika in Dublin, and the imposition of draconian bailout terms for the Irish economy by Brussels bureaucrats, saw Mr Cowen depart the political centre stage.

The message here is – Cowen could have been a great Taoiseach if only all those nasty people in Brussels and other completely unforeseen events hadn’t conspired to bring his career to a tragic end.

Here’s the truth:

Cowen is a political idiot. He was a disgrace and an embarrassment as Taoiseach. He was reared in the arrogant, we have a divine right to rule, mindset of the most corrupt political party in Irish history.

He’s one of those people who thrive as an obedient, unthinking foot soldier but immediately morphs into a political imbecile when promoted to high office. People of such low level intelligence frequently take to drink as a crutch for their failings.

Well-informed, objective journalism is one of the most crucial pillars of a healthy democracy.

Disturbingly, such high quality journalism is practically non-existent in Ireland.

Copy to:

Gerard O’Regan

 

 

 

Hell at the Gates: A propaganda exercise

 

1truth

By Anthony Sheridan

The first step in rewriting the history of Ireland’s political and economic collapse has been taken with the publication of Hell at the Gates by journalists Daniel McConnell and John Lee.

John Lee is political editor at the Mail on Sunday.  Daniel McConnell is political editor of the Irish Examiner.

If we are to judge by the long extracts from the book (6, 472 words) published in the Irish Examiner the rewriting has just one aim – to create a lie that the corrupt political system that destroyed our country is completely innocent of any blame for the catastrophe.

An editorial in the same issue backs up the book’s rewriting of history by attacking ordinary citizens for having the gall to demand a restoration of their pay scales that were so ruthlessly cut by the corrupt ruling elite.

Our enthusiastic, lemming-like demands for the restoration of indulgences funded by borrowing that led to the loss of our economic sovereignty less than a decade ago.

So according to this writer (I wonder who?) corrupt politicians, bankers, property developers and so-called regulators had nothing to do with the country’s downfall, it was all down to the peasants losing the run of themselves.

At first impression this book appears to be nothing more than a disgraceful propaganda exercise.

I will be analysing the publication in greater detail in the near future.

 

Michael O’Regan: A ‘surface’ journalist

 

 

s-o2013cover

By Anthony Sheridan

The following comments by Irish Times journalist Michael O’Regan confirms that he has no understanding whatsoever about what motivates those involved in the water protest movement.

The whole water charges thing will fade away. I can totally understand how people took to the streets after the way Irish Water was set up, the salaries and bonuses and the rest.

I can’t understand, today, how people are marching on water charges when you have this dreadful situation relating to homelessness and to health. The water charges should be way down the agenda now and health and homelessness should take precedence.

In common with most establishment journalists O’Regan only sees events on the surface. He seems to be completely ignorant of what’s going on underneath particularly since the economic collapse of 2008.

I say ‘underneath’ to emphasis O’Regan’s ignorance because what’s happening is not just right in front of his face but right in the face of this state.

What’s happening is nothing less than a rebellion against the state triggered by decades of political corruption. A significant and growing number of citizens have rejected the legitimacy and authority of the state.

The water protest movement is the cutting edge of that rebellion and O’Regan’s ‘The whole water thing will fade away” and “I can’t understand…” mindset accurately reflects the disturbing denial factor that pervades the establishment media.

Sooner rather than later, O’Regan and his comfortable colleagues will wake up to the realisation that the country they see as a stable, well run democracy is in the process of being dismantled and consigned to the dustbin of history.

Copy to:

Michael O’Regan

 

 

 

Irish media should be fighting gagging law

 

d01

By Anthony Sheridan

I have submitted a complaint to Newstalk management against presenter George Hook for breach of Section 42 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 (See complaint below).

This is my second complaint in recent times against Mr. Hook for breach of this particular code.  This complaint is under investigation by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and I am hopeful that a decision will be forthcoming soon.

In June 2014 I outlined my reasons for making such complaints against Mr. Hook and other broadcasters.  Here’s some of what I wrote:

The actual opinion expressed by Mr. Hook is of little importance.

What is of huge importance is to witness the implementation of a draconian, anti-democratic law specifically designed to repress what, in functional democracies, is the norm – the free expression of opinion.

Of even greater importance is the disturbing reality that this oppressive law was introduced and is being enforced with hardly a whimper from the media.

Before commenting further on the media reaction I am going to express my opinion as why this law has been introduced.

It was not introduced to protect the sensitive ears of Irish citizens from the personal opinions of broadcasters such as George Hook. It was not introduced to protect listeners from being led astray by broadcasters and it was not introduced as a result of any public demand.

It was introduced to stop outright or at least have a severe chilling effect on the media questioning of powerful people and in particular powerful politicians.

The legislation is, I believe, principally aimed at RTE because of its powerful position in the media and because of its vulnerability to political manipulation.

 

Complaint submitted to Newstalk on 29 Sep 2016

To Whom It May Concern:

I wish to lodge a formal complaint against George Hook, the presenter of the Newstalk radio programme High Noon for breach of the Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs, which came into effect on 1 July 2013 under Section 42 of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

On 28 September last Mr. Hook made the following comments in response to the wearing of T-shirts in Dail Eireann by a number of politicians.

Well, in the Dail you had six Left wing TDs wearing T-shirts.  The Anti Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit TDs wore ‘Repeal’ T-shirts on the issue of the amendment of the Constitution.

This has nothing to do with the repeal in my mind.  They could have been wearing T-shirts for free to air, for rugby, for free childcare.

The point is that once again this group of Lefties have no respect for our Constitution, have no respect for our traditions, have no respect for our history in the Dail because nobody but nobody in Dail Eireann is allowed wear an emblem.

That’s the way it is, you can’t do that.  As was pointed out to these Lefties, children who came into the public gallery were wearing T-shirts and they were asked to remove the T-shirts before they were allowed into the public gallery.

Everybody else conforms except these six loonies.  And what’s even more annoying about it is, unless they are clamped down and strongly clamped down by the appropriate committee on performance then what’s next?  Water, vivisection, it could be anything.

Everybody now with a half-baked idea that they’re upset about will be able to come into the Dail and wear a T-shirt or carry a flag or whatever.

And I have to say that Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd-Barrett, Gino Kenny, Brid Smith and Mick Barry are a disgrace to the position they hold as elected members of Dail Eireann.

It is clear that Mr. Hook is expressing very strong personal and partisan views and is therefore in breach of section 4.22 of the Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Current Affairs.

I include the relevant section of the Act below for your convenience.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Sheridan

4.22. It is an important part of the role of a presenter of a current affairs programme to ensure that the audience has access to a wide variety of views on the subject of the programme or item; to facilitate the expression of contributors‘ opinions – sometimes by forceful questioning; and to reflect the views of those who cannot, or choose not to, participate in content. This being so, a presenter and/or a reporter on a current affairs programme shall not express his or her own views on matters that are either of public controversy or the subject of current public debate such that a partisan position is advocated.

Copy to:

Newstalk

BAI

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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