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12 April 2007 Edition

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Media View

Larry O’Toole

Larry O’Toole

The Greening of the Media

BY Frank Farrell

The rise of the Greens has come to as a god-send to concerned media hacks fretting about the rise of Sinn Féin and various Independent candidates offering a socialist alternative to the conservative parties.
The media love-in with the Greens has been inspired by various factors: One is that people are more generally concerned at their environment, in particular global warming, and more immediately about their health and quality of life; second is that the establishment parties are so jaded that a ‘fresh’ face is appealing and third is that the Greens are essentially harmless politically and will be easily subsumed into a coalition with one of the big parties – unlike Sinn Féin and a few others.
A particular spur for this media green gazing in the first place has been the late electoral campaign in Dublin Central of former MEP Patricia McKenna. One of the few genuine radicals in the Greens, McKenna, who lost her European seat in 2004 and used to live south of the river, would hardly regard herself as a favourite to win a seat in Bertie Ahern’s constituency. But the media has insisted that McKenna is in with a serious chance because, being a radical woman she could, they hope, block Sinn Féin MEP, Mary Lou McDonald’s electoral progress.
McKenna’s prospects may have been enhanced by this media campaign but last weekend’s Sunday Independent went over the top, as usual, with an article that predicted 12 or 13 seats for the Greens. McKenna used to be a prime target for the abusive pens of the neo-unionists at the Sindo but now, according to the newspaper, has become a likely winner of a Dáil seat if only because its scribblers hope she might damage Mary Lou. Always read the sub text of ‘objective, factually based’ articles created by political writers of the establishment media.
The Sunday Tribune has become the most unpredictable of newspapers since its political takeover by former Fianna Fáil activist and political editor, Kevin Rafter, but it can, at least, be diverting for all of that. A recent edition reported that Fine Gael wanted to change a line in the national anthem from “Sinne Fianna Fáil” to “Sinne Fine Gael” following which report they referred readers to page 21. There they explained that the story was an April Fool’s joke. Really? We knew straight away the article was a hoax as any proposal from Fine Gael about the national anthem would be more likely to suggest that we replace it with some stirring ode to Europe or even the British Commonwealth.


However, a more interesting Tribune story was the fuss caused by Labour Party leader and former trade union official, Pat Rabbitte’s denunciation of ATGWU official, Brendan Ogle, for stating that ESB trade unionists would take “whatever action necessary” in the face of a break-up of the ESB. According to Rabbitte, who would never have become Labour Party leader without first making his name as a trade union official, this statement was “reckless, irresponsible”, “over the top” and “threatening blackouts” in a manner that will damage the “wider trade union movement”.
Rabbitte should have been embarrassed when a stream of trade unionists and Labour activists contacted the Tribune to point out that Ogle’s statement was backed by no less than six ESB trade unions and was a joint response to the proposed break-up of the semi-state company. The same trade unionists should be aware that Rabbitte has been anxious to distance the Labour Party from trade unionism for some time now ever since the party’s ‘qualitative research’ amongst the party’s middle-class target voters told him they were alienated by words like socialism, trade unionism and working class. Rabbitte and the Workers Party sold out the national question many years ago; now, they have abandoned even the flimsy, social-democratic philosophy that the Labour Party developed over a period of nearly 100 years. For some reason, only the Tribune picked up on this significant story of just how far Rabbitte has moved to the right to accommodate Fine Gael.
Media reports of the Easter Rising commemorations pointed illogically but naturally, to the small event held that day rather than those attended by thousands of republicans around the country. The small event was that held in O’Connell Street which was protected by crash barriers, ticket-only attendance and even screens. The events that attracted thousands were held throughout the 32 Counties and were, of course, virtually unreported on by the ‘responsible’ media who are hired to protect the population from such provocative activities.
One  ‘official’ event that did not receive the attention it deserved from recorders of (some of) the truth was that held in Arbour Hill by Óglaigh na hÉireann Teoranta, the organisation for retired members of the 26 County Defence Forces, which was attended by military Top Brass and the Assistant Garda Commissioner. There, standing shoulder to shoulder with leaders and officers of, em, ‘Óglaigh na hÉireann’ deputising for the Lord Mayor of Dublin was, one Councillor Larry O’Toole, Sinn Féin candidate for Dublin North-East. How comforting to know that if, or rather when, Larry makes it into the Dáil the likelihood of an Army coup is a remote one.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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