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26 January 2006 Edition

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Bin these rags - By Jon O' Brien

The Irish media is, as we know, dominated by anti-national and pro-British elements, who espouse neo-unionism and use their domination of public discussion to suppress opinions contrary to their own, and particularly to suppress opinions that might challenge the privilege and wealth of those who own the media.

But over the last ten years Ireland has been invaded by British media outlets, eager to seize the advertising revenue that the Celtic Tiger has produced. So we have a proliferation of The Irish Sun, The Irish Daily Mirror, The Irish News of the World and so on.

Of course, these papers aren't Irish at all. Not only do the English proprietors make sure that the editors they appoint are as anti-Irish as themselves, but the Irish content of these Irish papers is minimal — a few pages only out of the whole package, usually about 15%. There's Irish sport, an Irish-oriented front page, and that's generally it, with even the letters pages dealing with English issues in an English way.

Why do people buy them? Well, they're cheap (and nasty). The writing is very clever, because it's simple and non-taxing, there's lots of small news items of quirky interest and so on. But we can't avoid the fact that people buy them because we are, as a people, more anglicised now than we have ever been.

The latest edition to the English invasion is The Daily Mail. They, however, are not going to stick the word Irish in front of their title; instead they will produce an Irish edition. Politically this will be indistinguishable from the mainland (!!!) edition, which has a long history of rabid anti-Irishness.

There's a song about them, of course: The Man from the Daily Mail.

Oh, Ireland is a very funny place, sir. It's Sinn Féin through and through.

And the Irish are a very funny race, sir. They hate red, white and blue.

Every doggy has a tri-coloured ribbon, tied firmly to its tail.

And I'm shitting in me shoes as I'm sending out the news,

Says the Man from the Daily Mail.

The Mail is one of the lowest English papers, with a very right-wing agenda, sold in a very dumbed down package. No subtlety of discussion in its pages, and no toleration of dissent, either.

But it's not unique in this. All the English papers I mentioned — Sun, Star, Mirror — have all raced to the bottom in standards. There is no story too sordid not to grace their pages.

While the Irish media are nothing to write home about, the impact of the English invasion has seen a constant erosion of standards here — with less and less real news being published, and more and more titbits, exaggerations and titillating piffle.

And if the facts don't fit the story, then make up the facts. Last weekend RTÉ gave a prime example of this, when Gerald Barry's RTÉ radio programme discussed Bishop Casey's imminent return to Ireland. Interviewing the current Bishop of Galway, the interviewer asked whether he agreed with the suggestion that Casey should apologise. A bit taken aback, the Bishop stumbled out that it would probably be a good thing, all things considered. Thereupon RTÉ led for the rest of its news bulletins with the story that Bishop Drennan was demanding that Casey apologise.

In real terms this story was a lie, because the words were put into Drennan's mouth by RTÉ. But who cares? It was a 'good' story!

The biggest casualty here of The Daily Mail threat is Tony O'Reilly's Irish Independent. Never an honest vehicle as far as republicans were concerned the Indo has got worse under its new editor, Gerry O'Regan. Gone from the front page are serious political stories — "people aren't interested in politics" opines Gerry — and in come the trivial.

This is combined with a mindless attack on politics and politicians. No analysis of what they stand for, no challenge to the power of privilege and wealth, but the peddling of the line that we should ignore politics (and therefore leave it to those who know better -- like, well Tony O'Reilly!).

Can The Daily Mail make the Indo et al worse than they already are? The signs are that they will, and as The Mail's stable mate, Ireland on Sunday, has shown the motto is: "Don't worry about the truth, just get in the smear and let them deny it."

The only answer is not to buy these rags — just bin them.

An Phoblacht
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