MEDIA WATCHDOG

When were these Halcyon Days of the Media?

Media Lies (Photo Credit: Leigh Blackall Flickr.com)

Having wanted to see him speak for some time, you can imagine my delight when I learned John Pilger was coming to Dublin on Wednesday 25 October 2017. Finally I could see and possibly talk to the man who brings the world such trustworthy information.

Unsurprisingly the Edmund Burke Theatre in Trinity College Dublin was packed to see this saviour of a trustworthy media. Although at this stage in my career I should know better than to have heroes.

Halliday & Pilger in the Edmund Burke Theatre (Photo Credit: Peter Kearney)

Chaired by Dennis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, it was to take the form of a conversation between Halliday and Pilger. Unfortunately the talk was something of a let down. While there were some useful insights in their conversation, none less so than useful web addresses given by Pilger, the talk was scattered and disjointed with little or no depth despite its two hour duration.

Halliday & Pilger at previous talk (Photo Credit: Gandhi Foundation Flickr.com)

Dominated, as Q&As unfortunately appear to be by the rambling-bewildered and the self-promoting, an occasional noteworthy question did get through. However, it appeared to be incomprehensible to Pilger as Halliday had to translate from Hiberno into Antipodean English on almost every occasion. Pilger also seemed somewhat irked by the questions and comments.

But let’s park all of the above objections, as it was a packed theatre after all and these two men combined have such a wealth of knowledge and experience that it would prove impossible for any mortal to streamline into a two hour meeting, and let’s look at something more important. What was really objectionable was the incessant undertone expressed all through the Q&A, far too prevalent at these kind of talks, which is; ‘What has happened to the media today?’ and ‘Why cant we trust it any more?’ My question is: When exactly were these halcyon days of media reliability and trust? From the day that the first newspaper took advertisements it has been untrustworthy. This is not a recent phenomenon and certainly not a creation of the current US administration.

This narrative about the media’s past is based on fantasy. A rose coloured glasses revisionist look at the past when you quite possibly were younger, sexually attractive and had long flowing hair! I miss those days too (but at least those days once existed) yet they haven’t coloured my understanding nor lack of trust in the media.

It is these non-existent media days that every mis-informed microphone general loves blathering on about whenever someone of Pilger or Chomsky’s stature comes to town. They must believe they will impress or curry favour with their wonderful insight. Who knows? And like many of these microphone generals, I too have followed the media’s coverage of current affairs for over 3 decades yet I cannot ever remember any such trustworthy times.

One way to test this or indeed any narrative is to compare media coverage of an event you are quite close to, to the reality of that narrative. One such event I was physically close to was the border between the so-called north and south of Ireland and therefore the conflict between the IRA and British forces from 1969-1997. From as young as I can remember, the Irish media as well as that on the international stage, reported inaccurately on this conflict. A point which is evident from how the conflict was euphemistically referred to as; ‘The Troubles’. Little has changed.

Falls Mural (Photo Credit: Ricky Flickr.com)

It was and is a conflict described by the media as ‘Catholic V Protestant’. How could any self-respecting journalist stand over such nonsense? Even if we neglect the fact that there are Catholics and Protestants that both support a United Ireland and a union with Britain, we have only recently heard that this was in fact a battle for territory as well as a battle for civil rights.

Anyone needing a reminder of how politically biased the media were should read President Mary Mc Aleese’s book, The Road From Ardoyne, where they will learn about the harassment and bullying she was subjected to by her journalistic colleagues for attempting to report on the 1981 hunger strikes and Bobby Sands by-election.

I wonder do the microphone generals remember Section 31 of the Irish Broadcasting Act? A time when the Irish Government and media imposed very strict censorship on political opinion. Have they not heard of Kevin O’ Kelly? A journalist with the Irish state broadcaster and sentenced to three months in prison in the early 1970s for having interviewed the then IRA Chief of Staff.

Seán Mac Stiofáin former IRA Chief of Staff (Photo Credit: Burns Library, Boston College Flickr.com)

I watched too as politicians like Mandela and many others and many other causes around the world were adopted and honoured by the Irish media while Mandela was on an international terrorism watch list until 2008. We can argue the rights and wrongs of Mandela being on such a list but what is undeniable is that similar Irish ‘terrorists’ were vilified by that same Irish media.

I watched and listened to a misinformed narrative that regurgitated the notion that the UVF, UFF and UDA (British Loyalist ‘terrorist’ organisations) were a response to the IRA. They neglected to mention that the UVF were originally established in 1912, long before the IRA came into existence, and it was indeed the newer version of the UVF, as well as other British ‘terrorist’ organisations, that struck the first blow in the IRA/British forces conflict. I would recommend the microphone generals read The BBC’s ‘Irish troubles’ Television, conflict and Northern Ireland by Robert Savage.

Censorship (Photo Credit: Kyshera Official Flickr.com)

The mainstream media today is not trustworthy, and this is in keeping with the past. Simply because one or two trustworthy journalists came out of those times – times when we were all younger and more attractive – does not mean the entire establishment was trustworthy. The exact same can be argued about journalists today as the quality of journalist has not deteriorated one bit. Unfortunately the courage has not increased one bit either. None of this excuses a blinkered or revisionist view of history and the media, no matter how attractive you or the media may appear to have been at one time in your life.

Gemma O Doherty Journalist (Photo Credit: Sinn Féin Flickr.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unsubstantiated Reporting on Potential ISIS supporters in Dublin, Ireland

Churnalism (Photo Credit: Meedan Photos Flickr.com)

Never really sure if I should laugh or cry when I see this kind of churnalism. There is nothing of value in this piece as it tells us nothing – no precise times, dates or location – ‘today’ and ‘north dublin’ are not precise – even the Gardaí photo is a stock photo. Where is the verifiable data and information?

It is indeed the casual mentioning of the fact that British Police were given permission (presumably by Irish authorities?) to search Dublin properties that is most noteworthy. That part has been substantiated. But how can it be allowed? As part of an Interpol or Europol operation you might understand it then but Interpol are mentioned separately in The Irish Times version.

Interpol (Photo Credit: trongquy_cva Flickr.com)

The Independent.ie article by Cathal Mc Mahon is littered with other unsubstantiated statements like “arrest was made after a series of searches in continental Europe led UK officers to the suspect.” How did these searches lead us to this “…Algerian man in his 40s…”

Sean Dunne wrote The Irish Times version and he is equally vague. However, he does say the Garda station is “…north Dublin city…” and his information comes from “a Garda source”.

The thankfully brief and unsubstantiated article concludes with the clichéd fear inducing technique “At the moment there is no known link between today’s arrest and the London Bridge terror attack.” So regardless of the absence of any significant facts, Irish people should remain on high alert and suspicious of all Muslims?!

Until it is backed up I will have to put it in the same category as the hysteria that was created a few years back about Ireland’s only vase of Ebola man in Donegal with Ebola. Later retracted and proven to be false.

Ebola Scare (Photo Credit: Greg Clarke Flickr.com)

Story Update (Sunday 12 Aug Irish Examiner)

The alleged terrorist sympathiser “…was subsequently released without charge…”

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Fake News Irish Style – Hoganstand.com’s Reporting of ‘crowd trouble’ at Armagh V Westmeath Qualifier Match 8 July 2017

What could have lead Hoganstand.com to report on the Armagh V Westmeath Round 2B Qualifier match in Mullingar in the manner they chose? Is this fake news Irish style motivated by a kind of regionalised racism?

This blog is not just necessarily about GAA reporting or any sport for that matter. It’s about a type of slanted media reporting that tacitly exists in Ireland and has done for many a year. It’s a form of media reporting that is much much worse than telling lies, as lies are eventually discovered and the liar discredited, and much more insidious.

It’s a form of media that intends to lead the public astray and it is a nasty underhand trick that may never be discovered yet can do untold damage with unknown consequences, not seen until long after the perpetrator has left the stage. Indeed should they ever be taken to task for spreading misleading information, they may even claim ignorance, legitimately, as nothing can be proven. Yet what can be proven is that Hoganstand.com did not provide any details of the ‘crowd trouble’, apart from stating that the Gardaí (Irish police) had been called, nor who had caused it. Instead they attempted to leave the impression that it was the fault of the Armagh travelling support.

It is indeed a form of very nasty and manipulative propaganda – and it has been around a lot longer than Mr. DJT. It would be ‘fact checked’, to use the nonsensical parlance of our times, were there any facts to check. Sadly there are precious few. There is just inference and innuendo. Perhaps we should launch ‘inference check’?

A Divided Ireland (Photo Credit: Chris Cassoni Flickr.com)

Hoganstand.com’s report clearly attempts to give the impression that Armagh (a county north of the Irish border and, in the areas where GAA is played, known to be a Republican stronghold – all perfectly normal as we are all entitled to our political beliefs and pastime activities, provided they are respectful) fans behaved improperly. However, nowhere in this report does it say or explain what the ‘crowd trouble’ was or who started it but the picture, of an Armagh player shoving a Westmeath player (and much much worse happens in every GAA match all around Ireland), and the inclusion of “Armagh brought a large travelling support to Mullingar and their fans celebrated on the pitch afterwards” gives a very strong impression that Armagh fans were up to no good.

Bringing a large following is to be applauded. Particularly as it was a round 2B Qualifier match on a warm sunny evening (which we get precious few of in Ireland). Furthermore, as attendances can be quite poor at such GAA matches one would imagine that GAA magazines would welcome such support?

Hoganstand.com’s report stands alone as none of the credible mainstream sports reports on the RTE.ie/gaa on Independent.ie or the Irishtimes.com make any reference to any form of ‘crowd trouble’. In fact The Irish Times website state that after Armagh’s goal there were “joyous celebrations among the very large Armagh contingent”. The Irish Times is not known to be an explicit supporter of Gaelic games nor too much of the Irish variety north of the border. So Hoganstand.com’s exact motivation beggars belief.

Armagh Flag (Photo Credit: Ryan Padraig Kelly Flickr.com)

But of course they could retort that they are reporting what the mainstream missed or are afraid to report. In many circumstances that argument is valid. However, that argument does not stack up in this circumstance, as the comments section on Hoganstand’s Facebook page reveals. Some of those who attended the match claim that whatever ‘crowd trouble’ occurred in the stands among the supporters, may well have been instigated by Westmeath officials. Eyewitnesses claim that a Westmeath official threw a water bottle at Armagh fans, which reportedly struck a young child. Two eyewitnesses have supported this account and it has not been contradicted by anybody thus far. We wait and see.

This negativity towards the Ulster side is reflected in what could only be referred to as regional racist comments, in the comments section below the article. Nowhere in their article does it say that Armagh fans did anything wrong nor does it even state what wrong was done. Very little of the Anti-Ulster comments are based in any kind of fact. This is much worse than fake news as it is misleading and relies strongly on negative inferences and unfounded stereotypes. None of this can be proven – as nothing exactly has been reported – yet all of it leaves a negative impression in one’s mind and serves to feed old and unfounded prejudices.

Westmeath GAA (Photo Credit: Will Bakker Flickr.com)

Apart from the eyewitnesses who gave accounts of what apparently did happen, very few of the Anti-Ulster keyboard warriors appear to have even been at the game. It’s a nasty continuation of a very nasty anti-Ulster attitude that has existed down south for some time, much of which has been perpetuated and fed by prominent TV pundits. I hope they some day wake up to the vitriol that they are in part responsible for and the regional racism they may be stoking and reinforcing.

Hoganstand Article

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Irish Times Reinforcing the Status Quo Narrative – A United Ireland is not possible: not even Post Brexit

‘Put your money in bricks and mortar’ sure it’s ‘as safe as houses’ and ‘it could happen to a bishop’. Apparent truths that no longer form part of our narrative. Repeated ad nauseam, as these ‘truths’ were, people believed them and they became part of the collective discourse. That is until we discovered their brittle foundations and the real truth emerged.

Similarly in Irish politics, we have another list of ‘truths’:

  1. ‘A United Ireland (UI) is not possible’
  2. ‘Northerners and southerners are just too different’
  3. ‘It’s another country’
  4. ‘The loyalists will go mad’

All of these ‘truths’ have the same purpose: to maintain division between the north and the south, negate the notion that a UI could ever happen and maintain the status quo. Comedy’satire and even ‘Gaelic football punditry’ – whereby the northern teams who had the audacity to come to the sacred grounds of Croke Park, take on the aristocrats of the game and beat them not once but twice and more and were thus singled out for derogatory, discriminatory and insulting treatment – have all been employed through national media to exacerbate this apparent difference between north and south.

Pat Spillane – relentless critic and pejorative commentator of Ulster GAA teams after they took apart his native Kerry on several occasions in Croke Park (between 2003 – 2008) (Photo Credit: Thomas Day)

How many more untested and nonsensical ‘truths’ are we prepared to tolerate? Of course like all successful and unproven ‘truths’ there is some minute, if not irrelevant, truth in them that is magnified out of all relevant and meaningful proportion. So let’s look at these above four ‘truths’ then:

  1. A UI is not possible unless a majority gives consent. So what then, if they give consent? Will it be consented or will we have another reason as to why it cannot happen? Is the growing Catholic population (potential but not guaranteed supporters of a UI) being wooed?
  1. Northerner and southerners are of course different but so too are easterners and westerners. Does the Upper Malone Road have much in common with Sandy Row? Does Eglington Road have much in common with Buckingham Street?
  1. Is ‘Northern Ireland’ really another country? Apart from the fact that Northern Ireland is not a country at all, under any kind of rational definition, ‘Northern Ireland’ may not even be part of the UK. See my blog.
  1. And as for loyalists, who have been used and abused as a pawn of British policy? Well they may not be best pleased with a UI, that is true. However, the question is not whether they will ‘go mad’ but whether they will be supported and protected the way they once were. See my blog.

Regardless, and with the exception of a handful of recent Fintan O’ Toole articles and his participation in 66 Days, you could be forgiven for assuming that The Irish Times (the ‘paper of record’ don’t you know?) were furthering this narrative. Not known for championing the cause of a UI, the Old Lady of D’ Olier Street are usually in keeping with, as Ivan Yates (former Fine Gael Minister – Fine Gael have always and traditionally been, ever since their roots in right wing extremism, opponents of Sinn Féin and all groups striving towards a UI) put it on the RTE politics show, Questions & Answers, “keep Fianna Fáil to the bottom with the exception of Sinn Féin”. 

Despite claiming to adopt “an independent political line”, The Irish Times has been relentless in their attacks on Sinn Féin for a long number of years, even attempting to link Sinn Féin’s IRA past with current ‘terror’ campaigns. The Irish Times may serve its readership better by examining it’s own foundations.

The Irish Times’ narrative on a United Ireland is equally unambiguous. They have being delivering and repeating, for decades, a narrative that states ‘A United Ireland is not possible’. A United Ireland that is under Irish rule as opposed to one under British rule, which they may of course support as does former Ulster Unionist and current media mogul John Taylor, also known as Lord Gilhooley.

In keeping with their narrative in last weekend’s (8 & 9 April 2017) edition of The Irish Times Weekend Review, Journalist Simon Carswell, known mainly as a financial Journalist and Washington reporter, seeks to perpetuate that ‘truth’ through careful selection of quotes from people he describes as former ‘IRA veterans’ and ‘Hardmen’. The Irish Times’ use of a domineering green silhouetted photograph of all four men taking up the top half of the front page seeks to further impress upon us how authoritative and noteworthy these men must be. Their selected words must then obviously be the truth. The average Irish Times reader must have been asking themselves, why The Irish Times didn’t give them this kind of publicity in years gone by?

Male and Female IRA Prisoners. Hunger Strikers. (Photo Credit: Carrie Sloan)

Having met Mc Kearney and Mc Intyre I would contest the ‘Hardmen’ label. As experienced IRA volunteers, who possibly experienced every aspect of being a volunteer in a revolutionary movement they probably could have been described as ‘Hardmen’. However, as those days are long since over and these men now live in suburban style comfort, are well read and educated, they could be more accurately described as ‘Hardintellectuals’ and ‘Gentlemen’ of the so-called republican ‘dissenter’ class.

Carswell’s piece is a multi media piece including a Podcasted and Videoed addition to the Paper and On-line Written article. However, none of these appear to be connected. There are discrepancies between all of three versions and discrepancies between what the men say in this article and what two of them told this blog in interview two years ago for a radio documentary ‘Irish Republicans Opposed to the Good Friday Agreement’. While these men support peace, it does not logically follow that they support the ‘Peace Process’.

Carswell makes 3 main points:

  1. A United Ireland will never happen (using the headline ‘Ex-IRA Men: United Ireland It’s All Guff’, despite the fact that only one man said this).
  2. ‘Northern Ireland’ might even be better off with UK – again only one of the ‘hardman’ says this (Colm Lynagh comment) – even if we aren’t entirely clear of the context in which his remark was made.
  3. Brexit won’t derail the ‘Peace Process’ and lead to violence – like Sinn Féin say it will (but let’s examine that more closely – Have SF started such a narrative?).

Allowing prominence to be given to, or even using, the opinions of experienced people is valid. These men experienced what they are talking about. They are as close as is humanly possible to the title ‘Expert’. A title often bandied about with little meaning and assigned to people who are anything but. Not here though, that title is well earned. However, that does not give any journalist the right to select certain quotes and present them to support a separate agenda.

The headline attempts to give the impression that all 4 are opposed to the idea of a UI. While many of them may believe they will never see it, it does not logically follow that they oppose it. based on this article states and what I know from their opinions:

  • Gerry Mc Geogh – Supports it and sees it coming quicker than expected because of Brexit.
  • Colm Lynagh – hasn’t expressed an opinion either way except that he may be a Euro-Skeptic. He also strongly alludes to a unification between different shades of dissenting republicanism as well as among unionists.
  • Tommy Mc Kearney – Doesn’t see it and doesn’t necessarily want it – but not necessarily opposed either.
  • Anthony Mc Intyre – Doesn’t see it and doesn’t necessarily want it – but not necessarily opposed.

More worrying, Carswell introduces each man as being a supporter of the “Peace Process”. I was aware that these men support peace and have done for a long number of decades – longer than some in Sinn Féin – but that this did not automatically mean they supported the Process. Support the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), St. Andrew’s and Stormont? Was ‘The Peace Process’ defined to them before the Journalist came to that conclusion? Listen at above radio documentary link.

Gerry Mc Geogh, who has also been very outspoken on matters relating to Catholics serving in north of Ireland civil service positions, declares a very clear interest and expectation of a UI following the Brexit vote and indeed claims that this was the reason that he and other Irish Republicans voted for Brexit. On Britain he says “we couldn’t care less about it”.

Anthony Mc Intyre’s comment on Sinn Féin threatening a return to violence if their wishes aren’t allowed has been described as a form of ‘Sinn Féin expansionism’ on the podcast. But was it Sinn Féin who started talk of Brexit threatening the ‘Peace Process’? Conduct a simple Google search and you won’t see Sinn Féin making such predictions on the first page search. In fact the ‘The Leitrim Observer’ is first on the list where Enda Kenny says “We are not going back to…roads being blown up”. This is followed by an article in The Guardian predicting a return to war and then The Daily Telegraph and EU Chiefs. The vast majority of these articles were written before the Brexit Referendum had even taken place. Additionally it appears as if it is Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny who is making the strongest calls for a UI as opposed to Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in front of a ‘Unite Ireland’ poster. (Photo Credit: Sinn Féin)

Wouldn’t this be an opportune moment to build real truths instead of creating a Brexit Fear? So that, when handled properly, not only can this be change be brought about through total peace, it can also bring about a United Ireland that is good for everybody. Why won’t the powers that be explain how that could be achieved rather than focusing on unsubstantiated and unhelpful fear as well as needless negativity? I guess they must be susceptible to that other ‘truth’ – ‘When you’re explaining you’re losing’.

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newspaper-stack

Here is a link to other similar work I did on the Louth/East Meath constituency during the 2016 Irish Dáil General Elections #ge16

Media analysis on the coverage of the Louth constituency during #ge16.

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The Irish Times Portrayal of Bernadette Mc Aliskey and the North of Ireland

Bernadette Mc Aliskey (Photo Credit: TG4)
Bernadette Mc Aliskey (Photo Credit: TG4)

What’s wrong with this article on Bernadette McAliskey in The Irish Times by Kitty Holland?

1. It is in The Irish Times – that should have you suspicious from the get go.
2. It corrects McAliskey’s own quote when she refers to the “war” against the British as “The Troubles”.
3. It notes that McAliskey was ‘anti-establishment’ without mentioning the British establishment she was fighting against as an Irish person.
4. It talks about ‘Catholic Civil Rights’ as if they existed in a vacuum outside of a British controlled state that deliberately mistreated ‘Catholics’ even though religion was never the issue. The Irish Times are therefore perpetuating the myth that the war in Ireland from 1969-1997 was sectarian and religious based – it was not. Furthermore as Mc Aliskey is pro Abortion on demand, she could hardly be seen as leading a ‘Catholic’ struggle.

Bernadette Mc Aliskey (Photo Credit: ICAN Playhouse)
Bernadette Mc Aliskey (Photo Credit: ICAN Playhouse)


5. The Irish Times follows British propaganda to the letter in declaring that “13” people “died”, on Bloody Sunday in Derry in January 1972, as opposed to saying “14 were deliberately targeted and murderdd by the British Paratroop regiment that comes under the direct control of the British Prince Charles.

 

Bloody Sunday (Photo Credit: Tadgh Ó Maoildearg)
Bloody Sunday (Photo Credit: Tadgh Ó Maoildearg)


6. Portrays Mc Aliskey as ‘just another socialist/feminist’ fighting the system. Ignoring the fact that the injustice was brought about and exasperated by British rule in the north of Ireland.
7. That’ll do for the time being…

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Synopsis of 4 Newspapers (in north of Ireland) reporting on

Coalisland Easter 1916 Rising Celebration

Four Newspapers (in north of Ireland) report on Coalisland 1916 Rising
Four Newspapers (in north of Ireland) report on Coalisland 1916 Rising

Links to the above stories are;

Tyrone Times

Irish News

Newsletter Sample

Belfast Telegraph

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Why did RTÉ Prime Time host an imbalanced debate on The 1916 Rising?

There should be debate around 1916. And that debate should focus on how the ideals it set out can be best achieved and whether we still desire a united Ireland. It should not focus on, as RTE framed it“Was The Rising Justified?”. It was justified. Its objective was independence and independence was achieved. Where’s the debate?

Was the Rising Justified
Miriam O’ Callaghan, Co-host of “Was the Rising Justified” RTE Prime Time (Photo Credit: RTE Player)

Some alternative debate titles should be; 

  • “Do you support the Irish state?”

And

  • “Why are those who opposed the Irish state being included in the commemorations and others excluded?”

Or most importantly

  • “Did Britain create the conditions for an armed rising?”

These would be both honest and appropriate.

“Was The Rising Justified?” is a clandestine and unhelpful title and a deliberate mis-framing of The 1916 Rising. So too is the remembrance of the British who died at that time. There is a day for that already; so why the need to also colonise our days of celebration and commemoration?

If you question the justification of The 1916 Rising, you question the existence of the Irish state. The 26 County Irish state would not exist without it. Debating The 1916 Rising justification is valid for the monarchists and collaborators who oppose the Irish state. Debating the validity and existence of the Irish state is relevant when we are debating the validity and existence of statehood all around the world. But we are not. So the debate is not valid.

So-called ‘Dissident Republicans’ and Southern Unionists oppose the Irish state. It’s an unholy alliance. However, as ‘Dissident Republicans’ believe The 1916 Rising was justified but remains unfinished, they have no appetite for debating its justification as they already believe it.  Southern Unionists, however, believe in the outdated and imperialist British Commonwealth, the UK and the old days of the empire. We know these positions so, again, there is no debate.

Paradoxically the position of Southern Unionists supports that of ‘Dissident Republicanism’. Well, claiming it wasn’t justified as, full independence was not achieved (according to Kevin Myers), is exactly the position of ‘Dissident Republicans’ is it not?

Des Dalton – President of ‘Dissident’ group Republican Sinn Féin (Photo Credit: Irish Republican News)
Des Dalton – President of ‘Dissident’ group Republican Sinn Féin (Photo Credit: Irish Republican News)

So why did RTE’s Prime Time arrange this debate and host it at the site of The RisingThe GPO? Why did they invite known Southern Unionists; Kevin MyersRuth Dudley Edwards and Patsy Mc Garry to represent the tiny and almost negligible minority that is a Southern Unionist? Was there nobody else available?

Kevin Myers is well known for his pro British Empire opinions and he is also known for expressing opinions that are anti Islamic . Ruth Dudley Edwards pens regular anti-Irish articles. Patsy Mc Garry was a surprise as I had no real knowledge of his political opinions except that he is the Religious Affairs Correspondent with the Irish Times.

My initial reaction was that they were scrapping the bottom of the barrel and formulating an utterly pointless ‘debate’ to fill a timeslot. Aware of its pointlessness, the RTE ‘Chairperson’ David Mc Cullough, in his usual condescending, smug and misinformed manner, attempted to weigh in behind the imperialists (quite possibly influenced by his south Dublin Church of Ireland education) in taking a much heavier tone with the pro-1916 Rising side of Eamon O’ CuivMichael Mc Dowell and Professor Emeritus from UCD, Ronan Fanning.

Most notable about the pro-1916 Rising side in this ‘debate’ is that, they all know what they are talking about! Shocking eh?! They are all either elected representatives, former Government Ministers, well read educated people or direct descendants of 1916 Rising participants. The Southern Unionist side is tragically, for the TV license payer and those fond of democratic debate, a sorry collection of self-important ignorami and, like the Empire they support, unelected by anybody.

As this ‘debate’ progressed, the Southern Unionist side demonstrated that they were out of their depth. Edwards showed that she is more at home putting finger to keyboard, where her opinions cannot be immediately challenged. Mc Garry engaged in constant interruptions and sensationalism while both Myers and Edwards had to eventually admit, the well-known fact, that the British Empire achieved what it achieved through criminality and violence.

None of this is news and it serves only to further discredit an underhand ‘debate’. So why did it go ahead? Was it some attempt at balance? If so, why weren’t ‘Dissident Republicans’ invited? Is it because a tiny minority of them supports the use of violence? Surely not, as Myers, Edwards and Mc Garry, who support the British Empire, admitted that their empire achieved what they achieved through violent means.

The inclusion of Southern Unionists demonstrates imbalance and a return to the dark days of RTÉ willfully imposing the Section 31 broadcasting ban until its repeal in 1994 by the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael D. Higgins.

In fact balance does not exist. What exists is a framing of the narrative so you can only speak about The 1916 Rising under the terms already laid out for you. You have no real choice. As Chomsky said “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

Professor Noam Chomsky (Photo Credit: The New Yorker)
Professor Noam Chomsky (Photo Credit: Citelighter)

Attempts to speak about 1916 as a movement towards a United Ireland is to be thwarted by these fringe, unrepresentative and unknowledgeable populist folk. Indeed, I was unaware that they had even formally organised until this debate. Of course some will retort that this is in fact the purpose of debate – to inform you of what you did not previously know. But likewise I did not know, until now that is, that the Flat Earth Society and Esperanto Ireland, who celebrated their centenary last August, are also organised. Why weren’t they asked? There is after all, potentially 8 million people worldwide who speak Esperanto and they have an Irish membership.

The Flat Earth Society (Phot Credit: Flat Earth Today)
The Flat Earth Society (Phot Credit: Flat Earth Today)
Esperanto International (Photo Credit: Heroes Community)
Esperanto International (Photo Credit: Heroes Community)

Southern Unionist and anti-Republican opinion are not new in Ireland. Indeed the journalistic career of President Mc Aleese in RTÉ bears testimony to this. However, all is not lost and there are a number of well-respected figures in Ireland writing and speaking favourably of The 1916 Rising and its achievements, and the unfortunate need for violence and an armed insurrection. Below is a recent sample from Ireland, north and south as well as from the UK.

Brian Feeney – The Irish News

Dan O’ Brien – The Irish Independent

Inclusive of religion also

Britain Should feel Shame about The 1916 Rising

So let me sum up by outlining why I feel The 1916 Rising was, not only justified, but an absolute necessity;

  • The 1916 Proclamation supported Irish Independence – those who opposed it supported an empire and the slaughter of millions.
  • Home Rule, even if it were honoured, was not an alternative. It proposed the creation of an Irish assembly, subordinate to London, and circumscribed powers to protect Protestants.
  • “The Rising was undemocratic”…say monarchists…
  • “Ireland would be better off under the British today” NONSENSE. Ireland today, is effectively under German and US control through finance, legislation and industry. Irish society does not resemble that of the USA or Germany, in any meaningful way. AND, only the south-east of the UK is what you might call prosperous.
  • “India achieved independence without violence” – HOGWASH – Millions were still slaughtered by the British or allowed die , as they were during the Bengal famine. Even with independence, India remains in the British Commonwealth, Ireland does not.
  • People in Dublin lived in squalor, Catholics could not practice their faith during penal times, northern Catholics were Gerrymandered and beaten out of democracy, which was the ultimate trigger to the conflict in the north of Ireland – NOTHING AT ALL to do with the 50 year celebrations in 1966.
  • “It legitimizes the Provisional and Dissident IRA”. The Provisional and Dissident IRA never fought in open combat – although the fact that everybody accepts the Provisional IRA leadership in Government in the north of Ireland, and as a legitimate political force in the south should be ignored…MORE NONSENSE
  • It was indeed the British, through their Auxiliaries and Black and Tan criminal gangs, that used terror tactics in Ireland not to mention the war crimes carried out in the rest of their empire.
  • Those negating The Rising quote the conditions of a “just war” as laid down by Thomas Aquinas. The fact that this theologian lived and preached during the mid 13th century wouldn’t concern anybody?
  • And quite simply…remaining with an Empire, that;
    • Murdered millions worldwide and stole their resources
    • Allowed millions of Irish people to starve to death or emigrate during the famine of the 1840s
    • Forbade Catholics from practicing their faith and from voting
    • Allowed British loyalist militia murder and butcher
    • Support dictators, such as General Pinochet among others…would never be an option.

END


Non-Catholics in Catholic Schools in Ireland

Catholic Non Catholic School

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/non-catholic-in-a-catholic-school-1.2446488

Reading about this topic of late brings home to me how media power can be abused. Why so? Because my own experience and school days differ from it completely. Furthermore, the experience that others relay to me differs from it also.

I went to a very typical country Roman Catholic school in the 70s and 80s in Ireland and I then followed on to a CBS secondary school. All very very Catholic. Yet neither the teachers nor the governing body had the slightest problem with people of other faiths opting out etc. In my primary school two young lads from Belfast came to my class in 3rd class. They were Presbyterians and they were allowed opt out of religion classes. Nobody made a song and dance about it, it just happened and we all got on with it. One of the most prominent teachers, and indeed one of the best teachers, in the CBS secondary school was Church of Ireland. Again nobody made the slightest deal about it.

Like so many others, I know several Muslim families that are more than happy to send their children to Catholic schools. There are many many problems with the Irish education system. The fact that many are, in theory only, run by the Catholic Church is among the smallest of these problems. Lack of resources, poor teaching methods and ill-preparing students for life are the greater problems. And the bullying that goes on has little to do with religion. I was bullied at school every time I got a haircut or wore a different pair of trousers. Bullied and beaten by teachers too and none of it had anything to do with religion. It had to do with them and how unhappy they were.

So this is a red herring story. I feel for the individuals referred to here and I feel for them too much to use them as pawns in someone else’s game. If we are to naturally move away from our schools being under the control of the Catholic Church then I do not necessarily have any problem with that. And I mean control as opposed to ethos as I am not convinced that this presently exists anyway. However, it must be a natural progression and movement and not one that simply means a transfer of power from one set of hands to another. No more new wine in old bottles, if we change we change for something better not merely different. Change is not about securing old jobs and benefits for a new network.

This story like so many other media stories is being highlighted to serve the needs of a certain group. It is politically motivated nonsense and an abuse of media power. END


Irish Media Reporting of Bloody Sunday Commemorations (1920)

As opposed to Bloody Sunday 1972 in Derry. The bitter irony is that 14 innocent civilians were also executed by British crowned forces in Derry on 30 January 1972.

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The Irish state broadcaster, RTE, report; 14 civilians killed by crowned forces during a Dublin-Tipperary challenge match on 21 November 1920.”

http://www.rte.ie/news/2015/1121/748290-jane-boyle-remembered-bloody-sunday-croke-park/

They omit that these “crowned forces” were in fact “British crowned forces”. Why did RTE do this? Of course in the Dublin of 1920 the crowned forces are unlikely to be Spanish or Chinese, but why the omission? Would it not have been more candid to describe them as “the British forces” or “British agents”? That is after all who committed this war crime.

Is this to be the Irish state broadcasters censorship style as we approach the centenary year of 1916? 1916 is arguably the most important year, in contemporary Irish history, in the war against the British occupation of Ireland.

Contrast RTE’s reporting with that of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association). The GAA is an Irish sporting and cultural association, and it has always been so, since its foundation in 1884. Its games are played in Croke Park today and its games were played in Croke Park on 21 November 1920. It was their members and patrons who were gunned down and wounded that day as British forces opened fire indiscriminately. The GAA state;

“The date of November 21, 1920 will be forever etched into the history of the GAA and that of Croke Park stadium as a result of the tragic events which saw British forces fire into the crowd attending a Dublin-Tipperary football challenge match.

There were 14 people killed, among them Tipperary player Michael Hogan.”

http://www.gaa.ie/gaa-news-and-videos/daily-news/1/2011151409-gaa-to-mark-95th-anniversary-of-bloody-sunday-/

GAA Bloody Sunday Commemoration

 

On the 95th anniversary, prior to the Ireland v Australia International Rules test, the GAA held a commemoration for the 14 civilians. They lit 14 torches on the legendary Hill 16 and laid a wreath at the point where Tipperary footballer Michael Hogan died at the hands of British forces.

Michael Hogan

 

During their commemoration, the GAA announced, over the tannoy, the names of those slain by the British crowned forces. As the GAA did so, RTE Sport, who were televising the event live, decided to shroud their version over the GAA version. In the RTE version they included the British secret service agents, the so-called ‘Cairo Gang’ (although this name is disputed), among the dead that day.

All loss of life is tragic and it needs to be remembered and mourned. So why not let each side remember their own dead in their own way? Let each side take ownership of their own grief. Otherwise there is no clear memory of the past and we are left with a muddled compromise that does nothing to remember or respect anybody’s loss.

Worse still it attempts to equate the killings carried out by freedom fighters, an oppressed people, with that of the British Empire that had colonised large parts of the globe and took the wealth that belonged to the areas they colonised. The situation of that day and era was already imbalanced in favour of the British Empire and its crowned forces army. Crowned forces, which included the criminal terror gang the ‘Black and Tans’ among their ranks. The Black and Tans were given the responsibility, by the British Empire, of bringing terror to Ireland and the Irish people. Many of these ‘Black and Tans’, after they were driven out of Ireland by the Irish resistance (the IRA), finished their  days of terror serving for the British Empire in Palestine. So was there really a need to ‘balance’ history further in favour of the British Empire?

Additionally, this attack by British crowned forces in 1920, took place in the GAA’s Croke Park. This is where the commemoration was taking place in 2015. It was the GAA’s commemoration. Is it not logical then, to leave this mourning to the GAA? It was 14 of their patrons who were executed that day. The British also executed IRA volunteers later that day but they were not included in the GAA commemoration. Is this really a shared history or is it a censored history?

Furthermore, given the terror threat climate we currently live in in Europe, why did RTE not draw similarities between the British indiscriminate execution of civilians and the ISIS indiscriminate execution of civilians? Surely this would be balanced as The Irish Times, also on the 95th anniversary, related the IRA’s Birmingham bombings in 1974 to Bloody Sunday 1920.

In this way, the Irish Times have attempted to censor the memory of Bloody Sunday. In their weekend edition, on Saturday 21 November 2015, they all but neglected to mention Bloody Sunday 1920. It was as if, 95 years on, it had never happened or it was just a minor incident.

The Irish Times committed just one sixth of page 6, of the weekend edition, to the attack on Croke Park. And of that one sixth, placed at the bottom of that page, 30% of that single article was dedicated to the IRA Birmingham bombings of 1974. What was the real significance of that inclusion?

This means the Irish Times gave 70%, of a single article, which was already a mere 17%, of a single page, to Bloody Sunday 1920. 17% ÷70% = 12%. Then you notice that the entire Irish Times weekend edition is a whopping 122 pages. One single page is therefore equal to .8% of the entire weekend edition. So Bloody Sunday 1920 got 12% of .8% which is equal to .09%. An article entitled “To tip or not to tip?”: should Irish diners tip in restaurants or not – received three full colour pages. Which do you consider to be more important?

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/gaa-to-mark-bloody-sunday-1920-in-special-croke-park-ceremony-1.2438463

From now on, according to the censorship of mainstream Ireland, an Irish death can never again be mentioned without ‘balancing’ it out with a British one. Why is this? Why can we not allow people the space to mourn their own and give them the independent respect, space and time they deserve?

Otherwise, we are left with some kind of oxymoronic benign censorship, that excuses the powerful from wrongdoing and censors the oppressed from free and peaceful expression. Are we to be subjected to more of this in the run up to centenary year?

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