Rabbitte caught as Gallagher wags the dog

The last we've heard of Seanie? Don't bet on it.

So Pat Rabbitte said no.

There will be no public enquiry into “tweetgate”, and I doubt Gallagher is too disappointed.

He’s in a golden situation, whatever happens. He has been wronged, and he’s making as much hay as he can out of it.

Because this has little to do with RTE, or social media, or democracy, and everything to do with Sean Gallagher’s public political rehabilitation.

It is ironic that Denis O’Brien-owned organs like Newstalk and Independent Newspapers can be so lamenting of journalistic standards at RTE, all the while failing to apply them  themselves- before and after the fact.

In the first instance, there’s a good case to be made for the fact that Gallagher never should have gotten as far as he did.

Despite the prevailing anti-FF political climate, Dev’s border bagman was allowed to reinvent himself with ease as a community and social worker who had but a passing affiliation with the Galway tent.

Not only do we now know this to be true, we knew it at the time – but somehow, the silent acquiescence of the media allowed him to get away with it, almost all the way to the park.

Contrast this with the invasive analysis of the other candidates, in particular Martin McGuinness. Dana Rosemary Scallon had transatlantic family matters dragged up and Mary Davis was battered from pillar to post, as McGuinness had skeletons thrown at him from every conceivable closet.

But in the end Gallagher was placed in a farmyard with a cheque in his fist, very much a member of the inner circle of Fianna Fáil. The voters extracted their revenge, swiftly and mercilessly.

Since then, very little has been heard of him, but now Gallagher is back, having timed his return carefully.

With the wind of the BAI judgement in his sails, he is once again untouchable.

Once again, the lie is played out that the tweet sank him. It didn’t. The word ‘envelope’ and his proximity to the party that destroyed the country did.

Which leads us to the most worrying aspect – the hollow accusations of bias being bandied about, not least at RTE.

O’Brein’s minions would do well to remember that those in glass houses are ill advised to start getting careless with the rocks.

One only need to look at the first three pages of yesterday’s Sunday Independent to get a comprehensive view of the hysterical, anti-nationalist, anti-liberal agenda of the paper.

Turn on Newstalk for five minutes and you’ll hear a watered-down version of the same thing.

To accuse RTE of anything near that level of bias is beyond hypocritical.

RTE should not be biased. In as much as possible (and there are theoretical discussions that suggest that no-one is capable of full impartiality), RTE should strive to be as fair and as balanced as they possibly can, leaving the viewers, listeners and voters to make up their own mind.

The same cannot be demanded of privately-owned media – but what can be demanded is a clear distinction between what is news, and what is ideologically-driven comment.

For instance: the interview with Pat McGuirk – the man was delighted to ask a question on Frontline until the Sindo told him otherwise – by Jody Corcoran was not news. It was an ideologically-motivated attack on RTE, from beginning to end, and this should have been made clear. Any attempt to portray it as anything else is disingenuous and misleading.

(Add to this the fact that everyone in the PR/media business knows that you don’t just show up and ask whatever you like on TV shows. Producers and researchers are very careful about what it is they let through for all sorts of reasons- ironically, appearing to be impartial is one of the primary ones. Gallagher’s claims to be surprised at this fact lack credibility).

The same with Newstalk. At least I know George Hook is a blueshirt, and that he brings on the dimwitted squawking buffoon that is Michael Graham every week to himself appear moderate. I can take that into account, and god knows George says it often enough.

What I cannot take is Jonathan Healy saying “surely RTE must now face a public enquiry” when there is nothing surely about it.

It’s opinion masquerading as news, and the distinction should be an awful lot clearer.

As for Gallagher? Ironically, given that it was his association with them that destroyed his campaign, his FF handlers are now welcoming him back inside the tent.

Why? He is probably the only man who could save the party.  He may have been denied the Aras, but – with a little help from Denis’s uncritical minions – Kildare Street might still be he his.

Credit where it’s due in credibility crunch

Presidential hopeful Seán Gallagher- one of the only true democrats in the race so far.

It’s one of life’s great ironies that democracy brings out the worst in people.

Credit, then, to independent candidate Seán Gallagher for his actions in this presidential race.

Safe in the knowledge that he has the support of the four councils he needs to get on that ballot paper, he has graciously requested that other councils find other candidates to support.

Rather than fear the democratic process, Gallagher has embraced it fully, even though he knows that his actions will benefit those ahead of him in the polls. That is the action of a true democrat.

Not so Mary Davis, who continues to collect councils as if they were houses and hotels on a Monopoly board.

Unlike Gallagher, she appears to be gripped by fear at the thought of Norris and Dana Rosemary Scallon entering the race; as well she should, with such petty behaviour.

But as usual it is Fianna Fáil that epitomise all that is worst in modern Irish politics.

Beaten almost to political death in the last general election, they lack the courage and backbone to field a candidate of their own, despite there being plenty of party lambs ready for the slaughter.

But as if that wasn’t bad enough, they lack the moral courage to allow their members of parliament to support another candidate.

Let there be no doubt; in a campaign where the general public has clamoured for an open race and where many of the most popular independent candidates need Oireachtas support to get their names on the ballot paper, Fianna Fáil has petulantly turned its back on Irish voters. And not for the first time.

For this is their revenge on the Irish electorate for their terminal decline – spurned by the voters and under the leadership of a political lemming, their revenge can never again come at the ballot box.

So they extract it on the ballot paper instead.

This is why Fianna Fáil, like the (un)Democratic Left and the (not-so) Progressive Democrats represent the past in Irish politics.

This is why the likes of Seán Gallagher represent the future.