19 October 2006 Edition
Manipulators, fixers and spinners
The high point of the last week's media coverage was undoubtedly that incredible, arrogant editorial from The Irish Times bemoaning the fact that, despite the Times' best efforts, an ungrateful people had chosen the wrong option. At least "we know," Madam Editor intoned, "what kind of people we are."
This is, of course, what happens when you give the vote to lesser breeds. They don't know how to use it properly.
The media, especially the Times of course, have agonised over this popular delinquency, but what they haven't bothered to look at is the point that Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin made when he spoke in the Dáil: that what concerns people are the policy issues - the problems of health, education, housing and transport - rather than the personal squabbles of the political elite.
What the controversy shows, however, is the belief of the media that they have the right to determine the Government and the policies to be pursued by it. While Madam Editor fills her columns with copious references to democracy and the electorate, her bottom line is that she has no time for democracy when it comes up with a view that is different to hers, and no respect whatever for an electorate that doesn't blindly follow her lead.
The Times is not alone in this arrogance. We are, perhaps, more used to being lectured to from on high by The Sunday Independent and other more overtly West British rags, but it's an important point to remember when we read the press. For what we are reading are facts chosen by people with a right-wing, pro-imperialist agenda - not objective seekers after truth, but rather manipulators and fixers and spinners.
Talking of spinners, did you notice the way that barely was the ink with which the St Andrew's Agreement was written dry than the campaign began to undermine it?
First out of the traps, as usual, was The Sunday Independent. The Sindo has for so long been warning of the dire necessity of crushing the Shinners to avoid bloodshed and division that it was truly appalled that the possibility of a deal was really on the cards - and that this deal involved Sinn Féin being in government in the North and quite probably in the South too, after the next election.
That truly was an appalling vista. So up popped Alan Murray to warn how an "oath of allegiance", no less, to the PSNI might scupper the deal for republicans. This lead was played up by the Times' Frank Millar - a former general secretary of the Ulster Unionist Party - before the DUP's Jim Allister seized on it and the whole question of recognition of the PSNI was turned into a premature potential deal-breaker.
Of course, republicans will debate - calmly and without histrionics - what is on offer in relation to policing, and a final decision will be taken at an ard fheis. But nowhere in the two Governments' paper is there any mention of "oaths of allegiance" to the police. This is a turn of phrase made up by people working to undermine a potential deal before it is even realised. A bit reminiscent of Trimble and Donaldson when they were on stage.
Of course, in any normal democracy - and how often are we lectured about that by the DUP, The Irish Times, The Sunday Independent and the rest of the gang - it's the police who swear an oath of allegiance to the Government, not the other way around. You'd almost think the North was a police state!
Once again, be warned. Don't let the media interpret events for you. For their agenda is to try and ensure that republicans are kept out and stay kept out.
Finally, but no means least, the Corrib gas dispute continues to excite lies and dishonesty. The Sunday Independent is not alone in this, but it must take the palm for a series of completely unsubstantiated stories alleging mass intimidation by the Ros Dumhach protestors against those who don't support them. To illustrate this, the Sindo reported that "one Castlebar man had his car badly damaged."
The Sindo doesn't seem to realise that Castlebar is a long way from Iorras and the Corrib gas field, while the protestors come from the locality. What the Sindo also doesn't seem to realise and what it certainly doesn't report is that a TG4 poll showed that a clear majority of the people of Mayo SUPPORT the protestors.
In fact, there is intimidation going on in Ros Dumhach. It's intimidation by Gardaí brought in from riot squads throughout the country to try and break the resistance of the people of Iorras.
But I fear it will be a long time before the Sindo will be able to truthfully report that they have succeeded in that endeavour.
An Phoblacht Magazine
AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:
- The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
- It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
- There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.