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

 

Elaine Byrne: Failing to join up the dots on state corruption

 

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

State corruption is rampant in Ireland and does enormous damage to the country and its people. The disease of corruption originated from and still thrives within the political system. In 1979, with the coming to power of the criminal politician Haughey, the disease became malignant and spread to most areas of governance and then to the private sector.

Ireland is not, and never has been, governed by a political party or a coalition of parties. It is ruled by a corrupt political class who simply take turns in plundering the state.

That corrupt political class is made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour (now nearly extinct) with willing support, when unavoidable, from smaller parties such as the Progressive Democrats (now extinct), the Green Party and currently the Independent Alliance.

The disturbingly low standard of Irish journalism is one of the major contributing factors in not just allowing political corruption to exist but to flourish without any serious challenge.

The great majority of journalists are either willing participants, state captured, in denial or are simply ignorant of the brutal reality regarding the extent and source of state corruption in Ireland.

Corruption expert Elaine Byrne appears to be one of those who are completely ignorant of the source of corruption.

Writing recently [Sub. required] about the ineffectiveness of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) Ms. Byrne finished her article with this question:

Does the Government actually want the GSOC to do its job?

That a person whose job it is to analyse corruption and who has been writing and commentating on corruption for many years has to even ask this question is a disturbing indication of the abject failure of Irish journalism to even acknowledge the disease of state corruption never mind actually expose those responsible.

To answer Ms. Byrne’s question – no, the Government does not want the GSOC to do its job. That’s why the Commission is chronically underfunded and understaffed. The strategy of underfunding regulatory agencies is just one of a long list of well established tactics utilised by parties of the ruling political class to prevent any threat to their power.

Ms. Byrne goes on to ask another question the answer to which is right in front of her eyes should she ever choose to open them.

Why was it necessary for a tribunal and all its costs to be deployed when GSOC should have done the job?

This question relates to the political decision to instruct the Disclosures Tribunal to investigate a matter surrounding allegations made by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, allegations that should have been properly dealt with by GSOC.

The answer to Ms. Byrnes question is:  The ruling political class enacted laws that strips tribunals of any power to bring to account those found guilty of corruption. This guarantees that any corruption exposed during the course of a tribunal is merely recorded in the final report and deposited on a government shelf to gather dust.

This deliberate strategy provides the ruling political class with a powerful tool with which to permanently sidetrack any scandal that may pose a threat to their power. The strategy has been immensely successful in protecting the corrupt and the Disclosures Tribunal will be no different.

Commentators and journalists like Ms. Byrne spend much of their time and energy analysing the never-ending stream of corruption that inflicts so much damage on Ireland and its people but, for a number of reasons, are incapable of joining up the dots that are lying all over the corrupt political landscape.

Here is a list of just some of those dots that may be of some help to puzzled commentators such as Ms. Byrne.

Tribunals have just one function – to protect the corrupt.

Dail Committees (all of which are deliberately powerless) have just one function – to endlessly jump up and down in futile anger while the corrupt walk free.

So called state regulatory bodies such as GSOC, Central Bank, SIPO, An Garda Siochana, Charities Regulator to name just some are all deliberately underfunded, understaffed, willing participants in corrupt practices or act out of justified fear of state reprisal if they enforce the law.

Laws are frequently written with the deliberate intention of protecting the corrupt. For example, laws governing the operation of GSOC are drafted in such a manner as to make it almost impossible to properly investigate complaints. (I’ll be writing about this particular scandal soon).

Irish journalists are constantly writing and talking about corruption scandal after corruption scandal but studiously avoid joining up the dots – why?

Because when the dots are joined up they point straight at those responsible for infecting our country with the disease of corruption – the corrupt political class made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.

And therein lies one of the greatest barriers to eradicating the disease of political corruption that has inflicted so much suffering on the Irish people – the total loyalty and support afforded to the corrupt centre of Irish politics by a disturbingly large percentage of journalists.

Copy to:

Elaine Byrne

Daniel McConnell: Happy to wear establishment blinkers

 

By Anthony Sheridan

 

Establishment/Irish Examiner journalist Daniel McConnell tweeted the following in response to the Irish Water debacle in Louth and Meath.

It is amazing how quiet the anti-water charge brigade have been the past few days with events in Louth and Meath.

What’s really amazing is the apparent ignorance of journalists like McConnell when it comes to understanding the real, underlying reason for the rebellion against water charges.

Journalists such as McConnell are apparently incapable of going beyond the economic collapse of 2008 when analysing the on-going, historic changes in the political landscape.

They appear to be completely unaware that the water charges campaign has little to do with water and everything to do with the dramatic and continuing collapse of the old corrupt political regime made up principally of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the now almost extinct Labour Party.

Since the 1992 election when Dick Spring reneged on his promise to rid Irish politics of the disease of corruption by joining forces with the criminal politician Haughey, the Irish people have been progressively losing faith in, not just the political system, but the State itself.

This undeniable and obvious rejection of the old regime is there to see in election results for all those not wearing establishment blinkers.

Those wearing blinkers such as McConnell appear happy to analyse the political scene under the simplistic and insulting (to citizens) idea that it’s all down to an ignorant people, angry with austerity, being led astray by evil Trotskyists.

Copy to:

Daniel McConnell