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By Anthony Sheridan In an interview with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on RTEs This Week programme, David McCullagh quizzed her about the use of the word ?collusion? in the Dail during nominations for a new Taoiseach. You said the Government parties colluded in frustrating the voice of change, in what way was it collusion? McDonald … Continue reading "Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein?"
By Anthony Sheridan
In an interview with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on RTEs This Week programme, David McCullagh quizzed her about the use of the word ?collusion? in the Dail during nominations for a new Taoiseach.
You said the Government parties colluded in frustrating the voice of change, in what way was it collusion?
McDonald confirmed her belief that there was collusion between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael but she didn?t get much further before being interrupted by McCullah who declared triumphantly that he had looked up the word in the Oxford English dictionary.
Secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others.
This type of ?journalism? is bizarre and disturbing. McCullagh/RTE picked out one word, from one person in one political party and went to the bother of researching the exact meaning of that word with the obvious intention of embarrassing the leader of that party.
McDonald made the reasonable and correct argument that the word ?collusion? has a far wider application in the English language.
But McCullagh was determined in his attack:
Some people would see the use of the word as almost Trumpian.
McDonald, rightly, berated him:
Don?t be ridiculous.
The grilling was continued the next day on Today with Sarah McInerney.
Speaking with Sinn Fein?s Louise O?Reilly McInerney demanded to know why McDonald had used the ?collusion ? word.
As with Mary Lou McDonald, O?Reilly didn?t get far in her reply before being interrupted by McInerney who expressed her personal opinion that the word was used deliberatly by Sinn Fein.
O?Reilly, stating the obvious fact that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael did work together to keep Sinn Fein out was again interrupted by McInerney in her eagerness to support the establishment parties.
As McDonald said, the word ?collusion? has a broad application in language but if we take McCullagh?s strict definition and apply it to his and McInerney?s behaviour we can see that the definition fits perfectly.
Any objective observer could be forgiven for concluding that this was a [non] story generated behind closed doors by RTE journalists with the intention of deceiving listeners into believing that Mary Lou McDonald had done something wrong.
This is not journalism, it?s not professional reporting or analysis. It appears to be the deliberate targeting of a political party that poses a challenge to the fading power of the ruling political class.
By Anthony Sheridan Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford believes there is an organised social media campaign by some in politics to discredit mainstream media. Increasingly in some quarters of politics, social media is used to attempt to systemically discredit the media. This is designed to encourage the public to ignore anything negative that appears in … Continue reading "Irish Examiner bias"
By Anthony Sheridan
Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford believes there is an organised social media campaign by some in politics to discredit mainstream media.
This attack on the media, according to Clifford, encourages people to ignore facts and blame the messenger. And, he warns, the tactic is undermining the media?s role in holding power to account.
Specifically, Clifford is writing about Sinn Fein supporters who allege that mainstream media is biased against the party. He goes on to accuse those supporters of using the bias claim to discredit negative scrutiny of Sinn Fein.
Michael Clifford is wrong, as wrong as only an establishment journalist can be when faced with the uncomfortable truth of rampant mainstream media bias.
There are any number of examples of this bias not just against Sinn Fein but against any person or organisation, such as the water protesters, who threaten the power of the ruling political establishment.
The following is just one example from Clifford’s newspaper, The Irish Examiner.
A few weeks ago the leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan used the ?N? word during a speech in the Dail. Ryan was referring to an article in the Irish Times by the writer Sean Gallen in which he described how racist abuse during his childhood affected his whole life.
Here?s how the political editor of the Irish Examiner, Daniel McConnell, responded:
Four years ago, in May 2016, the then leader of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams also used the ?N? word in the exact same manner as Ryan. That is, he used the word in the context of the suffering of the nationalist population of Northern Ireland under British/Unionist rule, just as Ryan used it to highlight the abuse suffered by Gallen.
The bias of the Irish Examiner is exposed for all to see when the favourable [and justified] defence of Ryan is contrasted against the damning judgement of Adams by an anonymous Irish Examiner journalist, hiding behind an editorial, for the very same thing.
[I have underlined what I consider to be the contradictions between the two responses]
The bias and hypocrisy of Irish Examiner journalists to the two incidents is clear to anybody with an ounce of objectivity.
Mr. Clifford tells us that the so-called tactic by ?some quarters of politics? on social media to discredit mainstream media is undermining the media?s role in holding power to account.
There?s no need of such a conspiracy. A declining standard of professionalism coupled with an obvious bias against those who challenge the ruling political establishment are doing more than enough to undermine trust in and credibility of mainstream media.
By Anthony Sheridan Former RTE broadcaster Sean O?Rourke never made a secret of his contempt for Sinn Fein. At times his contempt bordered on outright hatred as he interrogated and insulted members of that party at every opportunity. For O?Rourke, journalistic objectivity was never as important as keeping Sinn Fein away from the levers of … Continue reading "RTE: Propaganda ambush of Sinn Fein"
By Anthony Sheridan
Former RTE broadcaster Sean O?Rourke never made a secret of his contempt for Sinn Fein. At times his contempt bordered on outright hatred as he interrogated and insulted members of that party at every opportunity. For O?Rourke, journalistic objectivity was never as important as keeping Sinn Fein away from the levers of power.
Sarah McInerney, O?Rourke?s replacement, seems intent on continuing in his biased footsteps.
We witnessed the latest example of this unprincipled journalism in what has become a regular RTE strategy when it come to Sinn Fein ? the propaganda ambush.
The ambush followed an interview of the Sinn Fein leader by the Sunday Independent. The Independent is a propaganda newspaper with a rabid hatred of Sinn Fein so it was no surprise that the interview was manipulated to demonise Mary Lou McDonald and her party.
Someone in RTE then, apparently, decided to follow up on the Independent?s rogue journalism by setting up their own propaganda ambush, Sarah McInerney was more than happy to cooperate.
I should make clear, this article is not about Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein or the IRA. Those interested in how McDonald handled the interview can listen back here on the RTE website.
This article is about how media organisations with a particular agenda, such as RTE, set out to damage the credibility or reputation of certain people and organisations who are considered a threat to the political status quo.
The form and delivery of questions asked are crucial if such ambushes are to be successful. In this case the strategy used by RTE/McInerney can be broken down into three parts.
One: Ask a question that?s impossible to answer.
Two: Repeatedly and forcibly put the question in pursuit of self-condemnation while ignoring all answers given in defence.
Three: Include a deeply emotional element to the question.
The impossible to answer question consisted of two parts:
While repeatedly putting the question RTE/McInerney introduced the emotional element of the ambush by exploiting the death of a 13 year child in the conflict.
Over three thousand people died in the Northern Ireland conflict. Tens of thousands suffered serious physical and psychological injuries. British soldiers, police officers, Unionists militia, the IRA and the British Government all engaged in the killing.
In a propaganda ambush it is important to leave out this bigger picture because it provides objective context that could weaken the damaging impact of the strategy.
RTE/McInerney didn?t need or indeed expect McDonald to actually say the killing of children was justified in the conflict. It was only necessary to repeatedly throw the deceitful question at her to create an impression in the minds of listeners that McDonald was being dishonestly evasive and therefore guilty in some way ? damage done, mission accomplished.
We know this was a propaganda ambush because the Northern Ireland conflict ended 22 years ago with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. To demand explanations from one party to the agreement so long after the conflict has ended without context and without demanding the same explanations from all other parties is clearly an exercise in propaganda.
Practically the entire world, including the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the vast majority of citizens in the Republic and the United Kingdom, accepted the agreement and by so doing recognised Sinn Fein as a legitimate political party that was genuinely intent on pursuing its policies by peaceful means only.
Only two groups rejected the agreement, the Democratic Unionist Party and the political establishment in the Republic. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael along with fellow travellers such as right wing politician Michael McDowell have never accepted what the world has accepted, that Sinn Fein is a legitimate political party. By so doing they are, effectively, rejecting the Good Friday Agreement.
Their motive is as cynical as it is self-serving ? Sinn Fein, as an outsider, poses a major threat to the exclusive power the established parties have wielded since independence. A power they have consistently abused at great cost to the quality of Irish democracy and the interests of Irish citizens.
The Irish media, led by RTE, is overwhelmingly conservative and pro establishment. The historic and, for the establishment, shocking public endorsement of Sinn Fein in the recent election has panicked them into abandoning all semblance of objectivity and professionalism in defence of that establishment.
Mary Lou McDonald
Anthony Sheridan Hong Kong belongs to the Chinese in exactly the same way as the Isle of Wight belongs to the British. Here?s how Britain came to own Hong Kong. In the 19th century the British East Indian Company was making huge profits in the illegal smuggling of drugs [opium] into China. This criminal activity … Continue reading "Hong Kong and democracy"
Hong Kong belongs to the Chinese in exactly the same way as the Isle of Wight belongs to the British.
Here?s how Britain came to own Hong Kong. In the 19th century the British East Indian Company was making huge profits in the illegal smuggling of drugs [opium] into China.
This criminal activity did serious damage to the Chinese economy and resulted in widespread drug addiction among the population.
The Chinese authorities appealed to Queen Victoria to stop the drug trade, she ignored them. The authorities then offered to allow the merchants to trade in tea in place of opium but this too was rejected. As a last resort the authorities confiscated supplies of opium and imposed a blockade of foreign ships.
The British responded by going to war. They defeated the Chinese and in the subsequent peace treaty demanded and were given ownership of Hong Kong.
For the next 150 years Hong Kong was ruled from London through a British appointed governor, there was no democracy under British rule.
Hong Kong citizens were never happy with this lack of democracy and frequently rebelled. In 1856, for example, when a very limited form of democracy was suggested the Colonial Office rejected the idea on the grounds that:
The current Chinese dictatorship holds the exact same anti-democratic view.
Chris Patten, the last Governor of Hong Kong before the territory was handed back to the Chinese in 1997, is outraged by this anti-democratic policy.
Here?s some of what he had to say in a recent article:
But Patten?s complaints are futile and hypocritical.
They are futile because China is now an empire and Britain a mere backwater on the world stage. They are hypotcritical because the Chinese are not doing anything the British did not do during their occupation of Hong Kong.
And there?s another important point, Hong Kong is geographically and culturally part of China. Britain, on the other hand is nearly six thousand miles away from its former colony.
Let?s imagine a reversal of history. Let?s imagine that China was the most powerful empire in the world in the 19th century and went to war with Britain because it was prevented from selling illegal drugs to the British people. Let?s imagine that after defeat the British were forced to hand over the Isle of Wight to the Chinese.
Fast forward to the present day and the Chinese, having lost their empire, are forced by the British to give the island back.
How would the British respond if the former Chinese colonists, from six thousand miles away in Beijing, began to lecture London on how they should govern the newly liberated territory.
I think we know the answer to that.
China agreed to give some political and social autonomy to Hong Kong through a ?one country, two systems? policy for a 50 year period.
That a ruthless communist regime should actually honour that promise for nearly half that period is nothing short of a miracle. Again, if the situation was reversed, would the UK honour such an agreement, particularly if its political and commercial interests were threatened – highly unlikely.
And it is principally commercial interests that lie behind the, so far, relatively benign response by the Chinese government to events in Hong Kong. The city is an extremely rich capitalist money-making machine and China is fast becoming the most powerful and richest capitalist country in the world.
The Chinese government want two things, to continue sharing the wealth generated by Hong Kong but, at the same time, exercise total political power over its citizens. In a word – they want capitalism but not democracy.
And that policy is a carbon-copy of the policy imposed by the British during their undemocratic rule of the territory.
By Anthony Sheridan Comedian Oliver Callan is a confused man and his confusion is getting him into all kinds of trouble. He?s in trouble because he doesn?t understand the difference between harmless political satire and serious political comment. If Callan was an ordinary Joe Soap comedian his confusion would not be a problem. But Callan … Continue reading "Oliver Callan: Back in his box"
By Anthony Sheridan
Comedian Oliver Callan is a confused man and his confusion is getting him into all kinds of trouble.
He?s in trouble because he doesn?t understand the difference between harmless political satire and serious political comment.
If Callan was an ordinary Joe Soap comedian his confusion would not be a problem. But Callan is not an ordinary Joe Soap, much of his income comes from powerful sources within the establishment such as RTE and the Irish Times.
The rule is simple: If you work for the establishment, you don?t attack the establishment.
There?s just one exception to this rule. If you?re a comedian you can slag off the establishment if, and only if, your comments are made within the strict confines of comedy.
Clearly, Callan doesn?t understand this rule. Recently he tweeted a very strong criticism of the leader of the establishment itself ? Leo Varadkar.
Somebody must have had a word in is ear. Perhaps a call from RTE or the Irish Times or maybe even a call from the Great Leader himself.
In any case, Callan quickly deleted the tweet with the following seriously pathetic excuse.
This wimpish but unstandably self-interested climbdown was rightfully torn to shreds on twitter.
So let?s have a look at the difference between Varadkar?s comments and McDonald?s Irish Times article.
McDonald wrote a well balanced, well informed article on the current political situation focusing particularly on the disgraceful, anti-democratic exclusion of Sinn Fein from government formation talks by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
Varadkar, on the other hand, obnoxiously and without any proof accused citizens of exploiting layoff benefits.
But, according to Callan?s flaky logic, Varadkar?s vile accusation is no worse than McDonald?s reasoned political analysis.
This is the mindset of a man running in fear of those with power to damage his interests.
All went quiet then?for a while. Callan probably thought he was off the hook, that he was still in the establishment?s good books.
But, once again, he made the massive error of mixing up satire with serious political comment.
In another tweet he described a speech delivered by the Great Leader as wooden and robotic.
Clearly, Callan was not getting the message ? If you work for the establishment you cannot criticise the establishment.
To hammer home that message, the mistress of the establishment?s high moral ground was called into action, Irish Times columnist Kathy Sheridan.
Personally naming Callan, Sheridan did not mince her words:
Callan, at last, got the message.
In an article that would embarrass even the most toadying, most servile supporter of the establishment Callan prostrated himself in a spineless effort to regain favour.
The Great Leader, who just days before was described by Callan as an arrogant robot, suddenly morphed into a man of passion for his country, a man who was going to deal with the [evil] ?shinners?, a man who was determined to leave a legacy of greatness on history.
Climbdowns as abject as this only happen after a serious slap on the wrist has been delivered.
And to copper-fasten his total allegiance to his masters, Callan jumped on the bandwagon that is the establishment?s hatred of social media, a hatred second only to its loathing for Sinn Fein:
Here?s Sheridan?s comment:
And Callan?s servile parrot:
Ah yes, I think we can safely conclude – Callan has definitely been put back in his box.
By Anthony Sheridan Establishment commentator Elaine Byrne believes Mary Lou McDonald and her party are lacking in moral courage and are therefore unfit to govern. Sinn Fein does not deserve a pass until Mary Lou and her leadership demonstrate genuine moral courage. Byrne is not alone in holding such an intolerant, undemocratic and hypocritical view. … Continue reading "Elaine Byrne: Lacking moral courage to name names"
By Anthony Sheridan
Establishment commentator Elaine Byrne believes Mary Lou McDonald and her party are lacking in moral courage and are therefore unfit to govern.
Byrne is not alone in holding such an intolerant, undemocratic and hypocritical view. The entire horde of establishment journalists have been scrambling around in panic ever since polls indicated that Sinn Fein have become a major force in Irish politics.
This development comes as no surprise to ordinary citizens who have suffered catastrophe after catastrophe as a direct result of political corruption in Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
The very fact that Ms. Byrne obviously believes that these two parties are in possession of any semblance of moral courage destroys her credibility as an objective commentator.
But Ms. Byrne will not recognise this criticism because, like all establishment commentators, she operates from within the extremely restricted realm of the political establishment.
Looking out from that bubble Ms. Byrne can see and is indeed very angry at the massive damage inflicted on Ireland and its people by the disease of political corruption.
We know this because she wrote a book outlining in great detail every major incident of political corruption perpetuated principally by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael since the formation of the state.
Unfortunately, Ms. Byrne does not, for whatever reason, possess the moral courage to name the guilty.
Instead, she falls in with the rest of the baying mob of ?journalists? in passing judgement on those who challenge the power and privilege of our corrupt ruling political class.
By Anthony Sheridan In a functional democracy like the UK the will of the people in a referendum is supreme no matter how inconvenient or disruptive the outcome is to the ruling political class. In a dysfunctional democracy like Ireland the will of the people in a referendum is supreme only on the strict condition … Continue reading "Real democracies and referendums"
By Anthony Sheridan(Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Sky UK)
In a functional democracy like the UK the will of the people in a referendum is supreme no matter how inconvenient or disruptive the outcome is to the ruling political class.
In a dysfunctional democracy like Ireland the will of the people in a referendum is supreme only on the strict condition that the outcome is in line with the wishes of the ruling political class.
By Anthony Sheridan Two years ago I qualified for the Free Travel Pass but was denied the entitlement because I refused to accept the legitimacy of the Public Services Card. The Data Protection Commissioner [DPC] has now ruled on the issue: The Department does not have a legal basis for processing personal data when it’s … Continue reading "Public Services Card: Some still forced to comply"
By Anthony Sheridan
Two years ago I qualified for the Free Travel Pass but was denied the entitlement because I refused to accept the legitimacy of the Public Services Card. The Data Protection Commissioner [DPC] has now ruled on the issue:
But?there?s always a ?but?, the DPC has also ruled that:
The legislation only allows the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to insist on its use for its own services.
So, not withstanding further clarifications, my current understanding is:
All citizens outside the remit of the Department of Social Welfare now have the option of using the card as identification if they so choose.
Those citizens within the remit of the Department of Social Welfare are not granted the right of choice, they must accept this illegal and very dangerous card if they want to receive their entitlements.
I will not be accepting this card until I am granted the same rights as all other citizens.
By Anthony Sheridan Letter in today?s Irish Examiner. The editor decided to remove a section from the final sentence. I?ve reinstated the section in brackets. There has been a great deal of outrage expressed at the treatment of former Garda Majella Moynihan. Much of the comment has focused on the apparent cosy relationship between the … Continue reading "Catholic Church: Dark influence still active"
By Anthony Sheridan
Letter in today?s Irish Examiner.
The editor decided to remove a section from the final sentence. I?ve reinstated the section in brackets.
By Anthony Sheridan Tom Parlon, former politician and Director General of the Construction Industry Federation [CIF] has come out as a comedian. It?s not clear if Parlon intends continuing with his job at the CIF but the quality of his comedy sketch on yesterday morning?s Today with Sean O?Rourke would surely indicate that he?s bound … Continue reading "Tom Parlon launches new career in comedy"
By Anthony Sheridan
Tom Parlon, former politician and Director General of the Construction Industry Federation [CIF] has come out as a comedian.
It?s not clear if Parlon intends continuing with his job at the CIF but the quality of his comedy sketch on yesterday morning?s Today with Sean O?Rourke would surely indicate that he?s bound for global fame on the comedy circuit.
Basing his sketch on the Government?s open cheque book joke for contractors to build the National Children?s Hospital Parlon led with one of his oldest but most hilarious jokes.
This is the one about contractors, while struggling to make a few cents profit against all the odds, recklessly risking everything they possess in order to help out the national economy and those seeking to put a roof over their heads.
He continues with some brilliant one liners on why costs continue to rise into the stratosphere.
[No, seriously, he did say ‘stuff is scarcer‘.]
And the new comic genius introduced a brand new type of joke ? the one worder.
Brexit?snapped Tom and the audience fell about in stitches.
Before listeners could catch their breath with their laughing he followed up with some great new jokes.
The rising costs of the 2 billion hospital, said the budding comedian, can be compared to someone ordering a gear-change car and, when going to collect it, suddenly says:
And, like all great comedians Parlon roped in a member of the audience to help him make his jokes even funnier.
After telling Sinn Fein health spokesperson Louise O?Reilly that a delay in the delivery of fireboards had added substantially to cost overruns she helpfully asked:
Haven?t a clue… the hilarious Tom responded.
Poor old Sean O?Rourke finally realised he had been set up by his producers. This wasn?t a serious interview analysing the out of control billions for the National Children?s Hospital.
It was the launch pad for Tom Parlon?s new career in comedy.
Listen to the full comedy sketch here, highly recommended.
Tom the comedian