Posts Tagged ‘irish media


We should all be “examing our position”

I’ve been following the publication of the Dublin Archdiocese report from Asia. This may sound insensitive, but I find it somewhat refreshing the Irish media is discussing actual news (Christ, I was glad to be out of the country for the Thierry Henry affair).

As for the report itself, it’s of course horrifying. Much has been said about it by men and women more learned than I, so I’m not going to pretend I have some insight to the affair. However, I would like to express my alarm at my own reaction. The most shocking aspect for me is how unshocked I remain. It’s not that I don’t find the details revealed by the report disgusting, because I do, but I find that I’m as disgusted this week as I was last week, or last year, or the first time I heard the phrase “a few bad apples”.

I wasn’t even shocked when I read this on Twenty’s blog, and after thinking about it for a while I realised my indifference is informed by the same idiocy that lead 98FM to use that picture. Whereas the church’s omnipotence was once a constant presence in the back of the minds of Irish people, it has now simply been replaced by the abuses perpetrated by that church. We know it without acknowledging it. We tut to ourselves while reading our papers, thinking how awful the whole thing was. We moan that bishops should resign, but that’s not going to atone for our own complicities.

There’s a silver lining to 98FM’s horrifying insensitivity, in that highlights a general absence of the one response to the report that’s needed the most, a recognition that real people were affected and remain affected by this abuse. This is not an attack against anyone. As I say, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. The horror we think we feel today is largely just a self-serving excuse we dreamt up to tell ourselves it can never happen again, but is this really true? Have we really learned anything? As much as I hate hypothetical comparisons, I think this one is apt. Imagine if a private company with access to children were guilty of the cover-ups that the church is charged with. Would we be satisfied with weedy calls for CEOs to resign? The fuck we would. These people, these guardians of moral authority, are directly complicit in possibly the most heinous crime that can be visited on children. I normally wouldn’t support Twenty’s tabloid proclamations, but he’s right on this one. These people should be prosecuted. Resignation isn’t good enough.

Then again, prosecution isn’t good enough either. That’s not going to sooth our own conscience.


Bertie’s conscience

I have recently developed a recurring nightmare. I’m sitting in Fagen’s having a chat with Aer Thaoiseach. For some reason I’m trying to elicit from him some personal or scandalous info on Celia, but he suddenly cuts me off, informing me how his conscience is %100 clear regarding the recession and how stoney broke he is these days.

My patience breaks and I cry, “Conscience? Broke? This is madness!

To this Bertie calmly responds, “Madness?” before exploding, “THIS IS DRUMCONDRA!”

He then kicks me in the chest, and I fall backwards into that little snug near the small bar, or something.

This is what I’m on about. Via Simon at Irish Election.


The bad mother weekly

Is there any justification for the splash in yesterday’s Sunday World? If you missed it, it was basically an attack on Melissa Mahon’s mother. The Real Irish Sunday went to great lengths to point out how Mary Mahon, whose daughter Melissa was killed by Ronnie Dunbar, missed the funeral due to being too ill, yet was able to go on an eight hour drinking binge afterwards.

Media commentators have long pointed out that tabloids often confuse the public interest and what the public are interested in. But in this case I’m not convinced the public are really that interested in this one. Perhaps I’m letting my optimistic view on humanity cloud my judgement, but do people really want to join a rabble against a mother who’s lost a daughter, no matter the circumstances? I for one read only a couple of paragraphs. That’s all I had the stomach for.

I felt a great contempt for this woman (not helped by the photos they used) until I realised that’s what the newspaper wanted me to feel. Basically, we were being sold an outrage. Usually I don’t have a problem with this, it’s what tabloids do, but this time?

Assuming the story is true (which is by no means a certainty), who are we to judge a woman in this position? Could it be that guilt prevented her from attending the funeral, and the same guilt is driving her to drink? I don’t know, but I do know that the attitude of the Sunday World was puerile and smug, and characteristic of no society I want to be a part of.


Political correctness gone mad or basic syntax (and sandwiches)

Do you know what pisses me right off? People who complain about political-correctness gone mad. Now I’m not saying folks don’t get overly sensitive every so often, but it seems that the people most annoyed by this are usually the ones who necessitated the onset of political-correctness to begin with.

I mention this as I caught a wee bit of Newstalk yesterday, finding that someone (in all honesty I can’t remember who it was) was filling in for Sean Moncrieff. This lad was doing an interview with an American soldier type who’s campaigning against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (the ruling whereby openly gay people can’t serve in the military). Somebody texted the show to complain about the repeated use of the word “gays” by the presenter. Rather indignantly, the he dismissed the comment by deliberately saying it again.

The trouble is, the texter was right. “Gays” is not merely offensive to whiney types, it’s also grammatically incorrect. “Gay” is an adjective, a description word. Its purpose is to qualify or modify nouns. To use an adjective as a noun is, therefore, in inherently subjective, and to describe people as such (gays, blacks, pakis, etc) immediately assumes them to be different from the norm somehow. That’s not PC sensitivity. That’s how grammar works.

I’m not saying this guy is a homophobe, and to be fair he’s not alone in this. Sky News regularly describes gay people as “gays”. My own opinion is that this started with Little Britain. I can understand the confusion, but I do think there should be some rule set up to prevent people who don’t get irony access to the airwaves.

This aside, you know what else pisses me off? Specialty shops that sell items not within their specialty. If I wanted a panini for lunch I wouldn’t have gone to a place called “The Bagel Bar” to get it.


TV3 awards the vice presidency to McCain

I’m watching the 5:30 news on TV3 right now, and they’ve just had a piece on the protests in Iran. The reporter commented that US Vice President Joe Biden stated he has doubts on the elections, which was followed by a soundbite from the Veep himself.

Only it wasn’t him. The on-screen caption clearly stated “US Vice President Joe Biden”, but it was John McCain telling us about his concerns over the disputed election results.

What are the chances of the same mistake being repeated on the 6:30 bulletin?


Is Paul Williams a PR agent for Limerick gangs?

I am regularly annoyed by the coverage of crime (or, indeed, anything) in the tabloids, and the Sunday World has always taken the biscuit in this regard. There’s something unpalatably celebratory about the way Paul Williams reports gang-crime in the paper, and in his numerous books on the subject. It’s portrayed as a sophisticated network of subversives and outlaws untouchable to the Gardaí and all decent people, as opposed to, say, a couple of families in Limerick and North Dublin who make make a bit of money from drugs and enjoy fighting each other and sending kids who would probably be better off at online schools to do their dirtywork and are ultimately not smart enough to realise murder doesn’t get them what they want. Not that I wish to seem dismissive of the problems with gangs in Ireland. The murder of Roy Collins is proof if proof were needed of the seriousness of the organised crime problem in this country. But hyperbole is not the solution. “Murder Inc”, as they call it, isn’t much more that a few scumbags trying to impress bigger but no less stupid scumbags. Paul Williams has made more money from these crimelords than they ever could.

So, as I say, I’ve always found this coverage annoying. Yesterday, however, it instilled in me a very different emotion: fear. Not so much fear of the gangs, but fear that these gangs are actually being strengthened by Williams and the Sunday World. The paper had several pieces on the murder of Roy Collins in Limerick last week, two written by Williams, that laid responsibility for the hit with “Murder Inc. boss” Wanye Dundon. There’s nothing peculiar here, as several media outlets suggested the same thing (even though the Sunday World somehow claimed it was an exclusive), but “the real Irish Sunday” does deserve credit for explicitly pointing out that it was by appearing as a witness against the now jailed Dundon that Roy’s nephew Ryan Lee eventually got his uncle killed. It surely doesn’t take a genius to realise that this kind of talk is going to make it harder for the DPP to convince others to testify against gang members. For this reason, yesterday’s Sunday World can be seen as a PR coup for the Dundons and their ilk.

This is made worse by a headline on page 12 which declares, “For the sake of your family don’t go near the court or there will be bloodshed.” It’s in quotation mark, so presumably they’re quoting one of their interviewees. Now if someone were to make a comment while researching the piece, it would be perfectly reasonable – however unfortunate – to include it in the article. But in the fucking headline? The gang bosses must have been delighted with that. It’s the kind of advertising they can normally only dream of. But even this is an aside, because when you read the article (assuming the average Sunday World reader makes it that far), it’s impossible to place the quote in any kind of context. It never appears in the body of the article and isn’t acknowledged anywhere. Basically, we have this bold statement that testifying against these people isn’t worth the risk, without any information on where it comes from.

In 2005 Robert McCartney was murdered in pub brawl by someone who just happened to be an IRA man. The case against his murderer fell apart because nobody in the pub that night was able to identify the killer. They were all in the jacks at the time. Amazingly, the entire crowd of this pub had somehow managed to fit into this Tardis of a pub toilet. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I don’t think the Limerick gangs have the power to intimidate possible witnesses through reputation alone the way the Ra do. However, with the kind of coverage given to these gangs by the Sunday World, that seems like something we can’t rely on for too much longer.


I’m soooo, soooooo sorry

Last night’s nine o’clock news on RTÉ was one of the most craven displays of cowardice I’ve ever witnessed, even by this country’s standards. If you’re unfamiliar with the story (though there’s really no reason for you to be at this stage) RTÉ apologised for a story they ran the night before regarding two paintings for our glorious Taoiseach Biffo in the nip. As usual, Suzy was first out of the paddock on this one. Just to be clear, nobody in RTÉ was responsible for the painting, and their report merely highlighted that these works were somehow displayed in two state galleries. And this has apparently evoked enough anger in the Taoiseach’s office to get the state broadcaster, OUR broadcaster, to apologise.

There is just no defending this. It is simply not something happens in a free country. A commenter on Suzy’s post has argued that RTÉ was right to apologise as the paintings are personally offensive. It could also be argued that they were libellous, and as we all know repeat of libel is still libel (though from what I understand of precedent law RTÉ has automatically admitted liability by issuing an apology). Though I can respect this argument, I disagree with it strongly. By buckling under pressure from the government, RTÉ has effectively stated that limits are to be placed on to satire and, more importantly, free speech. What’s weird is that RTÉ wasn’t the only, or even the first, media outlet to report this. Even the Guardian had it today, reporting that the Gardaí are tracking down the anonymous artist. They even called into Today FM’s office because Ray D’arcy was reportedly in contact with him. If ever this country was made to look like more of a banana republic then I shudder to think what that might have been.

I don’t want to get any further into the ridiculousness of this as it’s already been well discussed by the blogosphere. Instead, in a spirit of public activism (I know we still have it in us), I want to propose what we should do about it. Many people have said they e-mailed the department of the Taoiseach and RTÉ to express their disgust over this. This is completely understandable, but I have a better idea. Instead of getting ourselves worked up with complaining, why not go the other way with mass apologies. Here’s what I’m proposing: we go through our old posts looking for anything that might be perceived as offensive to our leader or the government, and send a letter of apology to the Taoiseach’s office for everything we find. We highlight in these letters that were are doing this under the new restrictions that have been placed on public discourse in light of RTÉ’s cowardice. If you can afford to post rather than e-mail, I suggest you do that. Forcing them to deal with hard-copies of letters will ensure this is a nuisance for them. There’s no need to let RTÉ off the hook either. We can send them letters highlighting further instances where they might like to apologise. I realise this will be difficult without access to their archive, but I’m sure memory will serve. And theirs always stuff we can find on the internet.

I’m completely serious about this. I’m going to e-mail some of our better satirists to ask if they’re interested in participating. But I think the blogosphere is where most of the heat of this will come from, if I comes from anywhere. You might say this idea is childish and petty, but it’s no less childish and petty that what has given rise to it.


Today’s top stories: Cheer up, you miserable gits

Today’s Sunday Tribune was just the most bizarre thing I’ve read in months. Ok, I can appreciate what they were trying to do, and given the moaning I’ve had about constant pessimism in the media I’d be a hypocrite for attacking a newspaper just for taking a positive stand. Some optimistic reports on this recession were certainly welcome. But jasus, they went a bit mad with the happy rays of sunshine.

In case you missed it, they called it “Guaranteed Positive”, complete with a suitable play on the old Guaranteed Irish logo. “Remember, the future we see is the future we’ll get,” warned Miss Hegarty’s editorial, which rather dramatically appeared on the front page. At least the splash was comparatively more composed in its buoyancy, with a headline declaring, “We’ll return to full employment within six years, ERSI predicts.” Uplifting, perhaps, but we really have to wait until 2015 to find a job. The front page item that really caught my attention, however, was a banner on the very top declaring the paper to be “an issue dedicated to positive thinking and a fresh perspective on the Great Recession”. So it’s the Great Recession now, not some silly, everyday recession unworthy of capitals. This was the most depressing angle on the recession that I’ve encountered so far.

The content within the newspaper did little to cheer me up. There were some interesting pieces on people whose businesses are picking up in recent month, second-hand clothes shops and renewable energy companies and the like. The problem with this is that, logically, if the economy does pick up, as they promise, these companies can expect a drop in their revenues. Worse is the “Why Irish eyes should be smiling” segments, where various Irish dignitaries provided a few paragraphs on the positives or our current condition. These range from somewhat qualified, highly specific reasons to be happy to downright fantasies.

I don’t have room to discuss them all, so I’m just going to highlight what I feel was the worst, that being one by businessman Gerry Robinson (I’m not sure if I’m supposed to have heard of him, but I haven’t). He claims, “We’re like a rowing boat badly rocked by a big storm that was not of our making.” Not true! This is a big storm that we are very much responsible for. In fact, we should grateful to the big storm for punishing us for sailing in waters we had no business in to begin with. After opening with the “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” paragraph from A Tales of Two Cities and asking if it sounds familiar (it doesn’t. This isn’t an age of wisdom in bad times. It’s an age of desperately groping around dark looking for exits but finding only deeper holes), he points out, “We’re hurt and we’re looking for someone to blame.”

He goes on, “Probably there are some people in Ireland who carry a bit of blame, but not many.” Wrong again. We are ALL to blame, every one of us. We allowed ourselves to be blinded by easy credit-based (ie, non-existent) wealth and as a result bankrupted ourselves. We also recognised the failures of our government in providing to our society’s weakest members (sick, elderly, schools, etc) yet voted for them anyway, because we were sure this was the crowd to keep us in pocket money. We tolerated wasteful spending of public money because, well, there was plenty more where that came from. And now there a backlash against the government because their bubble has burst. But guess what, we’re as much to blame as they are.

Of course Gerry highlights the inevitability of all this. “Things have gone wrong. They were always going to. The kind of success that Ireland has enjoyed simply couldn’t last forever,” he claims, admittedly quite correctly. However, if it was that obvious why did the government continue to rely on a housing market that was clearly heading for a downturn for its tax revenue? Why did we continue to raise wages under the guise of “social partnership”, fuelling inflation and making the country uncompetitive for multinationals? Why did we place blind faith in Seanie Fitz and the likes for our banking system? It’s true that there is an international banking crisis, yet even with this our banks look like that of a third world country. Even years before this banking crisis hit, foreign investors knew to stay out of Ireland.

The highlight of the paper for me is the “20 people who will save Ireland,” unbelievable as any superheroes yarn it’s made to resemble. I mean, Brendan Drumm, the man who couldn’t fix the health service during the good years, is now going to do this in bad times? There’s Bono, who they feebly speculate will move back the businesses U2 shipped to the Netherlands to avoid paying tax. And as for Giovanni Trapattoni, that’s just taking the piss.

I really hate to sound so cynical. I know there’s too much of that these days and I know the Trib was just trying to combat some of this. But devoting the entire paper to such up-beatism smacks of propaganda, the worst “Kitchener’s Army” kind of propaganda that sprung up during world wars to assure people everything will be tickity-boo if you just do your part. A level of this is of course needed, but the way it appeared in today’s Sunday Tribune is just misleading.