Today, you and I – along with several million other Irish people – will enter a voting booth, pick up a pencil and start X’ing.
In doing so, we’ll help seal the Fate of the Republic of Ireland for the next five years, and probably far beyond.
That is a daunting responsibility for all of us and we need to be clear and confident in what we do – for it is not only for whom we give our X but the very action in doing so that could have momentous repercussions. As has been proven scientifically, actions and words have a multiple energy far beyond the effect on the person taking the action or saying a word or phrase.
Without going into further details here, my advice is to be aware of the incredible power you possess that is yours and yours only.
Back to the national elections and one particular influence playing you.
‘Established media,’ no matter the country, holds a certain view about social development. Having been in turn, reporter, editor, publisher and journalism professor for over 30 years, I suppose I could easily be lumped in under this heading. I hope not, for the term refers to those media, usually right of left to varying degrees in their political thinking, which support the status quo, regardless of whom is in power nor the far-reaching consequences of that entity staying in power.
Inevitability it’s because members of the ‘established media’ have well-paying jobs they want to protect at all costs, ones that provide them with hefty salaries, thick expenses and a handsome pension at the end of it all. Change, they feel, means uncertainty. Perhaps, their jobs lost. After all, they are elites and the fall could be a mighty one.
That’s why it is key for us voters to be aware of these factors when we read newspapers, watch TV or listen to radio – especially media supported directly or indirectly by big business (Denis O’Brien at Independent Newspapers) or government (RTE). Health warning: don’t be unduly influenced.
I have been fortunate not only to have spent my media career in both broadcast and print (newspapers and magazines) but also in different countries including Ireland, north and south, the US and mainland Europe, so have gained a broader perspective than if I had stayed in my native Belfast.
As such, while abroad, I was shocked to learn that the entire body of ‘established Irish media’ failed utterly to warn ordinary folk of the economic bubble that burst upon them, a bubble as we know, created by crooked bankers, crooked developers, inept regulators, all caricatured by Fianna Fail’s infamous ‘Galway tent.’
From my standpoint, removed for so many years from journalism in Ireland, the cozy relationship between big Irish media and big Irish business was, and is, so obvious, with some few exceptions, sometimes (such The Irish Times columnists, Fintan O’Toole and Diarmaid Ferriter).
RTE’s Leaders Debate – an exercise in maintaining Right powerTake, for example, the ‘Leaders Debate’ on RTE earlier this week. My view: Miriam O’Callaghan’s performance was biased and amateurish, certainly compared to Claire Byrne in the previous debate. O’Callaghan read at times so automaton-like from her prepared script while attempting to stamp her ‘established media’ credentials on the final outcome.
Did you notice how, having mentioned the widespread cronyism that has gone on under the tutelages of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour (hard to avoid), she then turned to Gerry Adams – who, not having ever been Taoiseach or a Government Minister here, couldn’t be accused of cronyism. But that didn’t stop O’Callaghan, citing, unfairly, two particular persons, Bobby Storey and Danny Morrison. Her inaccurate accusation of Morrison being a felon was so reckless and willful an attack that it could well lead to a major lawsuit for which, rightly, RTE should pay generous compensation. Morrison was long ago cleared of all charges in the case the British state brought against him and RTE’s researchers should have been well aware of that.
Not only but in the televised debate, there was one dramatic and defining moment, one captured by Gerry Adams on camera before millions: that, for the first time after multiple denials and prevarications, Taoiseach Enda Kenny admitted – caught unawares – that HE had appointed Donegal’s John McNulty, a Fine Gael Seanad by-election candidate, to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, even though McNulty had no prior interest whatsoever in art throughout his entire life (unless you include the art of deception).
Hypocrisy of RTE’s Miriam O’Callaghan
I also find rather despicable the hypocrisy of Miriam O’Callaghan in bringing up the issue of cronyism. I met her in the Belfast studios of the BBC in recent years having been invited to attend an event celebrating the investigative program, ‘Panorama.’ I had learned that not only did Miriam use her role as a presenter to help get lucrative contracts with her employer, RTE, for some of her eight children, but also for her private production company, Mint Productions, one she established with her second husband, Steve Carson. Then helped him get a job at the Beeb in Belfast (my belief is that Carson left RTE, in great part, because the conflicts of interest he and his wife were involved in by gaining outside contracts with RTE for his children and Mint Productions was encroaching more into the public arena and the RTE elite were becoming uncomfortable that their lucrative jobs could be at stake for allowing it, but also because of some silly broadcasting mistakes Carson made).At the public debate that was part of the ‘Panorama’ event, hosted by Miriam, I asked her about these things as the first question from the floor. Her answer shocked me, “I don’t know anything about those things. My husband and I don’t discuss professional matters.”
This is the very same lady who tried to hammer Mr. Adams, Danny Morrison and Bobby Storey so unfairly on national television earlier this week – about cronyism.
Analysis or simply spin?
Immediately after RTE’s 90-minute ‘Leaders Debate,’ the station hosted ‘The Spin Room,’ with so-called experts analyzing the debate. Even though Gerry Adams catching Taoiseach Kenny out on the McNulty issue was by far the most dramatic new development in the whole debate – literally a ‘journalistic scoop’ – the station did not even re-broadcast that short exchange between Adams and Kenny – even though they did replay other videos from the debate, labeling several of them as moments of what they called ‘Adams’ substandard performance.’
RTE’s ‘Leaders Debate’ was peppered with examples of ‘Established Media’ bias. There were plenty more elsewhere:
Noel Whelan, in his column for The Irish Times, wrote that, “The only sustainable outcome (of the election) is a Fine Gael and Fianna Fail Government.”
Sarah McInerney, a political reporter for The Sunday Times, who lives high on the hog in a spacious home in one of the most elite areas of Dublin, said during ‘The Spin Room:’ “The next Government will be Fine Gael-Fianna Fail. If they can’t do business, no-one can.”
Pat Leahy, deputy editor and political editor of The Sunday Post, in his very first column days before the election was even called, wrote: “For Sinn Fein, the big breakthrough – participation in government – won’t come this time. The party doesn’t really want it to – that’s what its strategy to rule out anything but a left-led coalition means.”
Sinn Fein and Independents: a viable alternative to the same old…
What such ‘Established media’ commentators are saying is that with Labour in free-fall, there is no other choice – but there is, though they don’t dare mention it: a winning combination of Sinn Fein and Independents.
Through sheer hard-work and diligent application, Sinn Fein has increased its popularity, both in votes and seats at both national level (in the election five years ago) and in the local elections (two years ago). Not only but Martin McGuinness – who has acknowledged that, like the 1916 heroes, Padraig Pearse and James Connolly before him, he is an Irish Republican, and was a member of the IRA – did well in the Presidential Election. In fact, his penetrating dramatic contribution on the final televised Presidential debate in 2011, in effect, won Áras an Uachtaráin (the Irish ‘White House’) for Michael D. Higgins.
As for the Independents, their rise up the political ladder over the last five years is just as impressive as Sinn Fein’s, but the ‘established media’ again do not want you or I to consider that duet option. So they’ve tried to pour cold water on it, saying Independents in government is unworkable, especially when they’re Lefty Liberals.
History, however, proves them wrong, repeatedly.A long-time friend, Stephen Farnsworth, veteran American journalist with whom I was a colleague in the US, author or co-author of five books and now a tenured Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington, told me over the last few days, “Not so.” Pointing to the Liberal minority governments of Lester Pearson of Canada in the 1960s, he informed me, “Pearson was Prime Minister during the 1960s and his amazing record, with the Liberals and the NDP, Canada’s left party, working together, included universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the new Flag of Canada, a unified armed forces, a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, and he fought to keep Canada out of the Vietnam War. His government also abolished capital punishment de facto.”
Now, wouldn’t it be nice if a coalition of Sinn Fein and the Independents could achieve even half this? Why not? Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour have already failed miserably.
Here in Donegal, there is no shortage of quality Sinn Fein and Independent candidates (and I’m not speaking about pseudo-Independents such as cash-for-favors local councilor, John O’Donnell, who, interestingly, is urging people to vote for Fianna Fail’s Pat the Cope). A TD combination in Donegal of Sinn Fein’s Gary Doherty, Padraig MacLochlann and Pearse Doherty, Independent Thomas Pringle and one of the other candidates, now local councilors, such as Niamh Kennedy, Dessie Shiels, Frank McBrearty or one of the other ‘real’ Independents, seems to me like a good choice.
After all, haven’t we given the Fine Gael-Labour coalition five years to put things right, and what have they done? The former used this precious time to ignore the needs of the vast majority of Irish people and instead strengthened elitism, with economic research showing the most affluent 20 per cent of people in Ireland own 73 per cent of the country’s wealth and the poorest 20 per cent own just 0.2 per cent. Alas, Labour simply sold out its long-held principles for a whiff of power. As for Fianna Fail. Wasn’t that the political party that slept with crooked bankers and developers, bankrupted Ireland, closed hospitals and schools, lost our Sovereignty and sent the country groveling to Brussels for handouts?
Don’t let Big Media misuse and abuse you. This is your time in that voting booth, alone, your time only, a time when no-one has the right to tell you what to do.
In addition to voting today, there is one other place to which perhaps you would kindly attach your name, for a cause that is both noble and just, virtues hard to find in today’s questionable political world.
Public apology and re-affirmation of support for a true Irish Republic
President of Ireland Michael Higgins, apologize & publicly support heroes, families & ideals of 1916 Irish Revolution
Sean I do not agree with your view re Sinn Fein. See our article http://buncranatogether.com/home/2015/11/19/a-donegal-critique-a-microcosm-of-malaise-in-right2change-ireland. Sorry it’s a long article but it’s a view of our experience with SF and Right2Change. You also forgot to mention Thomas Pringle, a former TD too. I also would mention Gene Corrigan and another great writer Anthony McIntyre of Pensive Quill
A most comprehensive and well-written opinion piece. My congratulations to the authors for their sterling work. Many questions are raised by this thoughtfully penned article, among them: Should movements, as part of natural evolution, become political parties, with rules and regulations guiding them and their members to achieve goals? Is this the best, most efficient, way to carry forward – and indeed expand upon – the thrust of a movement’s aims?
Personally, my experience in my native Belfast throughout the 1970s, is yes. Like many others, I marched – almost every week for years – in one protest or another against injustices of many kinds, of-times bleary-eyed with exhaustion. Eventually, we realised we needed to turn a general Civil Rights Movement into a legal, political entity, a political party or parties, to drive our protest forward into the heart of decision-making bodies, into law-giving bodies, whether they be local councils or national governments. Otherwise, we felt, we’d always be on the outside, looking in. And that can be frustrating after a while, and inevitably protesters begin to thin out. They are only human after all. I believe having democratically-elected members of a like-minded political party is evolution, a positive development, if you will.
However, in saying that, I also want to make the point that I have every admiration for – and have marched in – protests organised by anti-austerity and anti-water groups, including Right2Water. They have brought key issues to the public’s attention in a brave, dramatic and concerted way and anyone who has ever been involved in trying to change the status quo or faced a strong, unbending authority for fairness and justice, knows that is as a far-from-easy goal to accomplish. Parties such as Sinn Fein, the one mentioned in the article, and other like-minded parties, have simply, by-and-large, expanded the menu of issues that needs to fought for, not diluted it.
Correction: Thomas Pringle is now mentioned in the blog, and was added to the list very soon after the blog went live. I thank you for pointing out this accidental omission.
may i add to your excellent article, its just a pity that more people don’t think outside the box. perhaps if they did we could have a great little country.
in regards to the scrapping of Irish water as a utility and the binning of water tax bills, I agree completely with the latest albeit’ idiotic statement from Enda Kenny when he said that people should still keep paying their water bills? I mean he must be talking to all those loyal blue-shirts who were tripping over themselves with their check-books in the race to pay for the tax in the first place, because it sure as hell wasn’t me or the likes of me who refuse to pay an unjust and unfair tax which is one too many. I’m already hearing the guttural seagull-like squawk’s emanating from the faithful, cribbing about not getting a refund in the event of the dissolution of the hated quango that has wasted billions to date in making the taxpayers and the unemployed no more than traded commodities to accrue extra wealth for the likes of one of irelands richest men’ Dennis Ó Brian.
If it turns out that those who have paid, are in line for a refund, than I want to be compensated for standing out like a duck in all kinds of weather protesting at this unjust tax, fair is fair.
As of now, since the counting has been done and dusted, leaving more than a few bully boys checking out the jobs list, the electorate have been clear in their message that fine Gael is bad for your health if your poor, but good for your wealth if your rich.
Enda is now a “has been” and so to will his party of blue-shirts when they realise that he is a hindrance that is no longer an addition to their requirements.
Its just a pity that the section of the electorate that voted for Fianna Fail candidates couldn’t see that they are just the other side of the same poster. No policy difference between them at all, they can conjure up statements as Barry Cowen their environment minister has in conjunction with party leader Michael Martin in saying that the scrapping of Irish water is a red line issue for them?
For goodness sake weren’t they the original crowd of bluffers that put the ill thought out idea in motion in the first place? And now they have the cheek to try and pull the wool over our eyes when the say they want an end to it? In the coming days or weeks, will we see Fianna Failer’s walking around town centers while holding up right to water, or cant pay, wont pay banners.
All I can say is that we’re suckers for punishment’ if the best we can do is swap Fine Gael for Fianna Fail lite.
Mise le Meas James Woods
Some very valid points made by Mr. Woods. The water bill was railroaded through without proper debate in the Dail and on such a key issue this attitude displays a severe disrespect for the basic elements of democracy. Ironically, while many people struggle to make ends meet, the man who pushed through this bill was rewarded with – and now enjoys – a lucrative position in Brussels.
figuring it all out, an addition to your excellent analysis
and so the merry-go-round of the Fine Gael, Fianna Fail courtship of I stepped in again and you stepped out again is on the cards for the people who pay patronage to the unproven theory that the divil you-know is better than the divil you don’t, line of thinking.
I have to be honest here and say that I find it very hard to fathom how or why any person of sound mind could willingly vote Fianna Fail and their old Galway tent brigade back into the driving seat again?
Being able to blame Fine Gael for the calamitous austerity driven state of the country over recent years and being able to convince a large portion of the electorate to believe that they were voting for a Fianna Fail Nua was some unashamed feat to pull off for Fianna Fails director of elections Sean Dorgan.
The fact that they began raiding Sinn Feins cupboard to woo an unsuspecting public who could only hear what they wanted to hear was a master stroke.
Rather than attacking Sinn fein about their supposedly but unproven lack of prowess on the economy, the smug Michael, did a shuffle to the left, stole and used their shibboleth on health, economy, homelessness, housing, 1916, as ammunition to use at every given opportunity to ridicule Fine Gaels time in office. While he was busy on this course of action, his allies in the right wing media, who for the first time in the history of the state, vested all their energy, expertise and array of royalist scribes to regurgitate and polish up old northern Irish war news from 1969 0nwards, in unsubstantiated attacks on one political party in particular, Sinn Fein and its leader Gerry Adams. If you keep throwing enough slanderous shit at a specific target, some of it will stick, meaning that when some people hear a half-truth or a whisper repeated often enough they begin to believe it because its possibly what they want to hear.
Sinn Feins former spokesman for justice & and equality Padraig McLochlainns loss at the final furlong to long time Independent Tomas Pringle, is a big shock to Sinn Fein in Donegal, but the loss is somewhat offset by the gains in many constituency’s where the party had no previous candidates running for office, which will now see an almost doubling of the representation in the Dail benches. No doubt questions will have to be asked of the strategists who implemented the three-man candidature in a field where Fianna Fail were allowed to reactivate their hibernating sleeper units. The only obvious government formation at the present are for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to amalgamat or realign, call it what you may, to form the next government.
There is no plausible reason for them to desist from this coarse of action because I was informed that in astrological terms, their stars are aligned both politicly, economically and strategically to sustain the supposed recovery that Enda keeps talking.
Mise Le Meas James Woods
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