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11 January 2007 Edition

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Media View

John Deasy and Damien English

John Deasy and Damien English

Fine Gael’s desperate deputies

BY ROBBIE SMYTH

It has been a difficult week for media watchers as the blurred line in our radio, newspaper, TV and web world between reality and fantasy finally collapsed. The breaking point came when it was unclear as we channel hopped and mulled over the morning papers whether we were watching and reading about Celebrity Big Brother or the latest Irish reality media fest of the Fine Gael self destruction show called Desperate Deputies, where a once serious political party swaps for a week any chance of election to government for being a national laughing stock and seeks new ways to demean and devalue its last shreds of dignity. And they didn’t disappoint.

So hats off to John Deasy and Damien English for showing us a party clearly not all singing from the same hymn sheet. In the week that Fine Gael HQ shelled out the big bucks for a 26-County billboard advertising campaign, which doesn’t come cheap, the party’s self designated young Turks, decided they could garner masses of free publicity.

The complaints of Meath TD, Damien “young people are best” English, in particular was truly excellent and many thanks to Playback et al for re-broadcasting it again and again. It pipped Jade Goody’s attempt to pronounce the word “influential” and then explain to a bewildered and amused Jermain Jackson why she was an “influential celebrity” as the media event of the week. Well done Damien.

The sending off of Fine Gael blond pin up and election hopeful Graham Geraghty for alleged use of abusive language to a match official while playing for Meath in the O’Byrne cup also had a Big Brother parallel as the blond locked punk rocker Danny Tourette was banned from the Big Brother house for scaling a wall after being made a servant to Goody and her family.

Meanwhile Republican Publications are thankful for the generous publicity afforded to the 2007 Republican Resistance calendar by Fine Gael Senator Brian Hayes and the Sunday Tribune. Whether it was Hayes’s irrepressible self-importance or just further evidence of the poor standards at the Tribune, the Page 7 headline incorrectly stated: “TD slams Sinn Féin for glorifying IRA Loughgall unit in ‘atrocities’ calendar.” Pompous he may be but Brian Hayes is not a TD. He lost that honour in the 2002 general election in Dublin South West which saw Sinn Féin’s Seán Crowe elected to the Dáil.

Since getting the Seanad consolation seat Hayes has used his perch there to pour forth anti-republican bile worthy of the most extreme elements in the DUP. Which prompts the question as to whether Hayes’s is a classic case of sour grapes or are his politics just bitter orange?

The story of the week is how the print media in particular reported on DUP backtracking on policing and the failure of the British Government to hold them to their public commitments.

The Irish Times for example began 2007 by telling us that “Sinn Féin votes for January ard fheis on policing”, following it up the next day with a Gerry Adams interview headlined “policing deal a challenge”.

“Paisley indicates he could sign up for policing move timetable” was the next day’s story. It’s in the third paragraph before you read that Paisley has in fact used his New Year statement to begin a back tracking exercise. By last Thursday the story had a new spin as we are told on the front page of the Times that “Blair cuts short holiday to deal with tensions in the North”.

It is somewhere down the article before you read that in Dublin and London there were concerns about the DUP position and their backtracking, but this core issue escaped the Irish Times headline writers!

Gerry Adams becomes the focus of the Times headline on 5 January, while the next day tell us that that the DUP “has no more to say”.

The Irish Independent began the week with “Ahern hopeful of final peace deal on the North” and then the paper loses interest and the story’s prominence declines for the rest of the week.

RTE began last week focusing on Sinn Féin MLA Geraldine Dougan deciding not to run for re-election and Paisley’s New Year message. Then they headline “Sinn Féin doubts on ard fheis”, followed up last Thursday with not the of the DUP backtracking but instead telling views and listeners that the “DUP seeks ‘upfront delivery’ from Sinn Féin”, and on Friday falls into the same spin of the Irish Times that the British were somehow the arbiters and heroes of the week.

Finally Fianna Fáil were this week subtly moving their election strategy into place, beginning with the ‘will we, won’t we’ on Sinn Féin in coalition, and then the priceless leak on the front page of the Sunday Business Post that they were planning another €75 billion in social spending on “quality of life” issues on top of the €75 million in the “National Development Plan”. So now we have an opening price of €150 billion on the election, watch closely for higher bids.

 

 

 

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