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.

Darren Scully and Enda Kenny. (Not pictured- all their black friends)

Every now and again a politician says something so profound that it echoes in our history books.

“Ich bin ein Berliner”.

“Peace in our time.

“Tear down this wall”.

“I will no longer represent black Africans”.

Thank God for the appalling stupidity of Darren Scully – an avowed non-racist, some of whose best friends aren’t black – for once again showing us that austerity produces not just hard choices and more poverty for the already-impoverished, but it’s a greenhouse for racism too.

Far from drowning in a sea of celtic tiger-era skinny lattes, our racists and racism survive and thrive, especially now that we’re poor again.

I’ve written before about the ridiculous nature of some of the rubbish that gets spouted about Africans in Ireland by the defenders of the ideologies of Hitler , and yet still they come. Our friend Sven with his “99.8% of sex crimes in Oslo are committed by non-Europeans” comment on another piece is just one of them.

I argued long and hard on a similar subject with another crackpot racist (this time from Israel), whose basic assertion was that people were being raped in their droves by the Muslim hordes right outside my very window.

Be that as it may, there would be no statistics, as Swedish police do not record ethnicity- let alone religious affiliation- when investigating crimes here.

Gavin Titley wrote a brilliant piece today for politico.ie outlining why the likes of Scully think it’s OK to be staggeringly and publicly racist, and then deny it as not being racism at all.

I’d like to say read it and learn something, but having listened to George Hook’s section on it yesterday, it’s more like read it and weep.

Of course, there is an elephant in the room here too, and that is his continued status as a member of Fine Gael. Whereas a non-racist political party would have kicked him to touch the second he opened his gob, Fine Gael can’t.

Because to do so would be to admit that Enda Kenny’s Patrice Lumumba joke was equally wrong.


A creature made of clay- Norris pulls out of Aras race

If we’re honest, it was never going to happen.

It’s not that we wouldn’t elect a gay, erudite president. Far from it.

It’s that we were never going to be given the chance.

Mainly due to pressure of time, I wasn’t going to write about the demise of the Norris campaign, and for the same reason I’m not going to get into the moral rights and wrongs of Norris and of what he did, on headed notepaper from the Seanad or anywhere else.

But a tweet from George Hook, back on air after a holiday in Norway, changed all that.

George Hook wrote:

The political system is alive and well becasue David Norris failed to pass the rigourous test that every candidate should have to pass

Except that’s exactly what didn’t happen.

Despite the best efforts of many commentators, there appeared to be an enormous ambivalence towards Norris’ actions in writing to plead for clemency for his former partner.

In many cases, no effort was spared to shoehorn in the words “statutory rape” and “lover” in alongside the Norris name.

A Sunday Independent poll laughably asked whether or not Norris should have a partner should he be elected president.

And even if the vast majority of people ridiculed the very idea, the very fact that one of the biggest newspapers in the country would ask such a stupid question shows we’re not as grown up as we thought we were.

But that is not why Hook is wrong.

The moment the Norris campaign fell apart was not when the letters were revealed, nor during the controversy over the 2002 interviews resuscitated by Helen Lucy-Burke.

The moment his campaign fell apart was when the likes of the spineless Finian McGrath weighed up his options and decided that his interests would be best served by jettisoning Norris as fast as possible.

And in doing so, Finian denied us exactly what Hook claims we got.

The system of electing a president in Ireland is deliberately constructed to effectively disbar most Irish citizens from ever attaining the highest office in the land.

In order to get your name on the ballot paper, you must first secure the endorsement of the likes of fickle Finian and 19 of his colleagues.

And as we’ve just witnessed, even that is not usually enough as at the first sign of trouble, Finian will take his support wherever he thinks it will gain the most votes for him – not the candidate.

In withdrawing his support, he stopped the senator’s name going on the ballot paper and thus prevented the Irish people from passing the ultimate judgement on Norris.

Had we had the chance, we could have sent a clear message to Norris and the rest of the political classes that, along with being gay and clever, such interventions were either acceptable to us, or they weren’t.

Instead, Finian made up our minds for us, and all that remains is another week of talking heads telling us that is the senator – not the outdated, undemocratic, unrepresentative political system – that is wrong.

George, the only thing that today showed us is that the system doesn’t work.

Norris failed no “rigorous test”. He was damned in a poisoned court of public opinion until such time as those that supported him turned and fled.

And you can be sure that this was no test that “every candidate should have to pass”.

The asinine assortment of political nobodies left in the race inspire nothing but despair.

From left to right, they have either failed to live up to their billing, or never had a billing to live up to.

And that is why the system of electing a president should be changed. Let the Norrises and the Adi Roches and the Brian Lenihans stand up before the people, warts and all, and let the people vote. And if the people vote for them in numbers, let them be our president.

For the solution to a democratic problem is not less democracy and more decisions being taken over the heads of the electorate, including who gets to run for the highest office in the land.

As you no doubt heard during your recent two weeks in Norway, what is needed is more democracy, not less.