Tag Archive for Irish Water

Ryan’s video nasty says more about Late Late than Murphy

A pic of Ryan Tubridy and Paul Murphy taken from the RTE Player.

Let me tell you about The Late Late Show and fairness.

Next week, the show will feature several songs, one of which will be chosen as Ireland’s Eurovision entry.

The backing band and singers for one song are a girl band from Sweden, who asked me if I could find them a gig in Dublin on the Saturday.

I contacted Ryan Tubridy’s show and we agreed that it might be fun to have the girls go on the radio on Friday morning and then have Ryan’s listeners find them a gig for the Saturday night.

Then, yesterday evening, I got an e-mail to say that the idea was being nixed, as it wouldn’t be fair to the other acts appearing on the Late Late to highlight one on the radio show, and not the others.

Then Tubridy interviewed socialist TD Paul Murphy on the Late Late, and all semblance of fairness went out the window.

Tubridy is a terrible, almost comically bad political interviewer.

His only tactics are to provoke his subject and try to channel some semblance of righteous indignation.

But in trying to seem tough and uncompromising, he instead comes across as rude and ignorant.

His questions are aggressive, shallow and transparent, and when the subject answers them capably, he irritatedly talks over them and moves on.

Of course, this Paxman- (very) lite approach is the first thing the media handlers will tell the politicians as they prepare to face him.

Tubridy was entirely right to ask Murphy about his history, his political career, his penchant for protest and his numerous arrests.

And asking him to explain the footage of Murphy with the bullhorn during the “siege of Jobstown” was also journalistically valid, even if it has already been done to death.

But the decision to show the footage of an entirely separate protest, in which Murphy had no hand, act or part, was the most morally bankrupt editorial decision in a long time.

And given that we’re talking about Ireland here, that is some achievement.

The film of Murphy holding the bullhorn is journalistically valid because it gives the context of what happened in Jobstown.

The showing of the film in which president Michael D Higgins was called a “midget parasite,” under the tenuous logic that some of those shouting are known to Murphy, was all about subtext.

Paul Murphy supports water protestors.

Water protestors are violent, foul-mouthed people.

Paul Murphy is a violent, foul-mouthed person.

Deliberate or not, it was a nakedly political act – its message was “protesting is OK, but for the love of GOD don’t offend anyone or inconvenience our betters.”

But the question about the presidential protest had to be asked, you may say – but did it really?

Murphy has condemned the behaviour of those in the video (including those people known to him) on countless occasions.

About half an hour later, the game was up.

The jovial Chris De Burgh was sitting on the couch, singing his songs unprompted and telling everyone how great he was.

But here we had a man who had sex with a teenage girl while his wife lay recovering from a broken neck in one of the greatest scandals in Irish celebrity history, and he wasn’t asked about it.

So the dalliances of the millionaire class pass without criticism, while Murphy has to explain things that have nothing to do with him.

The problem, and it is a problem all over the world, is that journalism is now very much a middle-class profession.

The staggering lack of job security and the pitiful sums paid to journalists for their work mean that only those of independent means can engage in a career.

The result is that newsrooms – and the production offices of shows like the Late Late – have no innate understanding of what life is like for the working class.

Much is made of the influence that Denis O’Brien may or may not have over his newsrooms, but the fact is he doesn’t have to exert any influence at all.

All he has to do is ensure that he hires editors and journalists that share his view of the world, and the rest will take care of itself.

The working class voices are only ever solicited outside the dole offices or courthouses, or on YouTube clips when they finally get it into their heads to protest.

The result is that those who work with working class people and try to improve their lot, like Paul Murphy, are mistrusted and insulted in the media.

Holy Catholic Ireland, as it once was, has never been exposed to socialism or social democracy – the soon-to-be-defunct Labour Party is to the right of Thatcher on many issues.

So it would have been interesting to see what Murphy had to say about his own politics, his atheism (if he is an atheist), about education and health and the EU.

But no. Instead, we are treated to standard reactionary journalism that ensures that the Irish working class will always pay the piper, but it will never be allowed to call the tune.

For your betters, brow-beating beats being there

“I threw a brick through a window…”

Today the column inches will stretch to feet, yards, miles – infinitely longer than a single water balloon or brick can fly. The airwaves will crackle.

There will be news, there will be comment, there will be analysis on the collapse of democracy that occurred at the anti-water charge protest that hindered Joan Burton’s car in Jobstown at the weekend.

Despite their fleeting appearances, the brick and the water balloon will feature heavily.

Just one question to all of those breathless hacks painting dark pictures of the End of Days, caused by a violent mob of working and non-working class people in a Dublin suburb.

How many of you were actually there?

Because if you’re going to pontificate about the death of Irish democracy for thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of readers or listeners, then I expect you to have dropped everything and headed for Jobstown.

It’s not that hard to find. There are busses, and failing that the taxi company on your speed dial will take you there swiftly.

But such is the laziness and insular nature of the long-distance columnist that it is easier to make pious declarations about democracy from a safe distance rather than take the risk of talking to people for whom “th” in any word is an optional extra.

In truth, there is no need for any journalistic foundation to a column about certain areas of the country – after all, what are they going to do? Complain?

But for me the front line is the only place to start.

Because if I see a man throwing a brick, my instinct is not to ascribe a motive to him, or to find out what a well-to-do person in Dublin 6 thinks.

My instinct is to ask him why.

Then my instinct would be to find out if he is representative of the greater mass of people.

And my instinct is, in this case, that he wasn’t.

If I was in Jobstown, the ultimate journalistic bounty that day would have been an interview with the brick-thrower – after all, who better to explain his actions than the man himself?

I’d ask him how he felt.

I’d ask him what he thought of the fact that his brick was likely to do more damage to the peaceful protestors than it ever was to the Garda car he aimed at.

I’d ask him if his slip as he made his getaway was a fitting metaphor for something else.

But based on his actions, the instinct of virtually everyone else in Irish media this weekend seems to have been to scream “MOB!!” and write long, pretentious articles about democracy that are completely without any sense of nuance, understanding or first-hand experience of the situation.

But that’s OK, because what are they going to do? Complain?

Write a letter to the editor that will never be published?

Call the radio show that screens out exactly the prevalent accent used in that part of the city?

During the riots here in Stockholm last year, more people were injured in the rush to condemn the violence than were ever in danger from the riots themselves.

Such condemnation serves nothing but the ego of the politician or journalist already well-served by the democracy they claim to be upholding – the one that depends on the votes and the purchases of working-class people, and then abandons them as soon as power is secured.

The kind of people who live in places like Jobstown, Neilstown, Coolock, Ballymun and Darndale.

The kind of people who voted for Joan Burton – who sat in that car – and then saw her completely betray the mandate they had given her.

If you want a real story about the collapse of democracy, it was sitting in the car, not rocking it or shouting at it.

That story is how an unelected four-person “economic management council” has, with the support and full active participation of Labour, set aside Ireland’s parliamentary democracy until further notice.

No, the only thing that ran riot in Dublin yesterday was the middle-class sensibilities of journalists and politicians confronted by the dawning realisation that it is too late, and the proles have had enough.

For the hacks, there is no point back-pedalling now.

So do not start with your own answers and then tailor the facts to fit, as currently seems to be best practice at the Irish Water Meter and on Water Meter FM.

Instead, put aside your pointless pontificating, go back to your basic journalistic training and ask the five Ws and one H that we all learned on our first day in class.

And of all those questions you should be asking, right now “why?” is the most important.

And from what I’ve seen in this morning’s papers and online, not one of you has asked it yet.

Shock around the clock – but no change

The hoo-ha about the CRC payoff (and indeed Irish Water) is probably a welcome diversion for James Reilly and the government.

After all, it keeps the focus off the real source of the problem – that the Ireland we have created is designed for the benefit of a few while consistently failing the vast majority its citizens.

For all their talk about change, would Ireland really be that different if Fine Gael and Labour once again ceded power to the greedy spivs of Fianna Fáil?

The point is not that the CRC does great work. It is not that the CRC board are inept at best and downright devious in their dealings with the state at worst.

It’s not even about the fact that that the chairman of that board received a massive payoff when he finally stepped down.

The point is that, in a civil, developed, well-functioning democratic society, the CRC should not exist at all.

In a well-functioning, democratic society there would be a health service available to those who need it – in particular those who need it most.

In a well-functioning democratic society, those families and others who support them wouldn’t have to go out and beg for support, fundraising to ensure that the services which give their loved ones a better of quality of life are maintained, only to see their money pocketed by those who feel more entitled than the ostensibly less well-off.

In a well-functioning democracy, the staff and management would be well looked after by the state – and held accountable to it when things are not as they should be.

Instead, we have a professional class that sits on boards, claiming huge salaries for themselves while seeing children go without wheelchairs for months on end.

And then, when they’re found out, we have deals done for them to go quietly and prosperously into the night.

Not for a moment do I fault them, by the way – that they accept huge amounts of money for little or no work and at no risk to themselves is not their fault. It is the fault of those offering it. On your behalf.

The spoofing has already started, James Reilly intoning gravely that the government “will use all available options open to it, including corporate enforcement, the gardaí and civil courts” to get the CRC payoff money back.

The truth? That money is gone. That payoff was mandated in a legally-binding contract, and it had to happen. No amount of Reilly’s spoofing will change that fact. The money is gone, and it’s not coming back.

It’s just another milestone in a long litany of failures that seem to be occurring more and more regularly in recent years.

Almost since the foundation of the state, Ireland has abdicated its responsibility to its citizens.

It abandoned the health and education sectors to the clutches of the Catholic church, which indoctrinated its misery into the country’s youth for generations, physically and sexually abusing them with impunity, and then sullenly refusing to make restitution when they were eventually found out.

And now, with the church thankfully on the slippery slope to terminal irrelevance, Ireland has instead embraced capitalism as its new savior, outsourcing everything except the accountability for services, which remains curiously unassigned.

Ireland has become the perfect example of what Naomi Klein described in the Shock Doctrine – a society sacrificed on the altar of the most savage kind of capitalism.

(Anyone considering refuting that might want to have a look at where the €50 million on “consultant’s fees” for Irish water went before calming down.)

But the state is a product of its democracy, and the real blame lies with those who continue to elect fools and gombeens to government, regardless of their ineptitude.

The reason Ireland is a failure as a state is not because of the bankers or the fat cats or the spiv politicians.

It’s because, when confronted with injustice on a staggering scale, voters take one look out the window and rather than revolt, they call Joe Duffy instead.

There’s a bit of Twitter outrage, the odd headline in the papers, and then … nothing.

Nothing changes. Nothing happens. The kleptomania carries on, and the Irish people just watch as their money is pissed away on them.

The barricades remain unbuilt and unmanned.

The failure continues.