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The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Pepe Escobar : Interview with The Press Project Sun May 22, 2022 13:10 | amarynth
From a unipolar to a multipolar world.  This is my itvw with the wonderful folks at The Press Project in Greece.  In English, with Greek subtitles.

offsite link Sitrep Operation Z: Yes, it is ?The Grind? Sun May 22, 2022 12:34 | amarynth
For the Saker Blog by Saker Staff This is a short sitrep just to bring the latest information together.  First, Brian Berletic does a fine job of describing the battlefield

offsite link Azov surrenders. Who will be the sacred martyr now? Sun May 22, 2022 10:51 | amarynth
By Batko Milacic for the Saker Blog On the night of May 17, after brief negotiations, Ukrainian army units, blocked by Russian troops at Azovstal in Mariupol, began to surrender.

offsite link Germans ´schwedt´ hard for Russian oil Sun May 22, 2022 10:27 | amarynth
´Krautensuiciden´: by Jorge Vilches for the Saker Blog Germans will soon passionately conjugate a very strange new verb amongst themselves, the infinitive form of which is ? to schwedt ?.

offsite link Moveable Feast Cafe 2022/05/21 ? Open Thread Sun May 22, 2022 00:30 | herb
2022/05/21 23:30:07Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of

The Saker >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Fergus Finlay and the maternity hospital ‘gotcha’ trap

offsite link Irish Examiner and fake news Anthony

offsite link Labour Party: The unvarnished truth Anthony

offsite link Humanity: Zero chance of survival Anthony

offsite link RTE gives balance – accidentally? Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link UN human rights chief calls for priority action ahead of climate summit Sat Oct 30, 2021 17:18 | Human Rights

offsite link 5 Year Anniversary Of Kem Ley?s Death Sun Jul 11, 2021 12:34 | Human Rights

offsite link Poor Living Conditions for Migrants in Southern Italy Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:14 | Human Rights

offsite link Right to Water Mon Aug 03, 2020 19:13 | Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

By Anthony Sheridan HSE board member and Irish Examiner columnist Fergus Finlay is so strongly in favour of the current arrangement for building the National Maternity Hospital that he took the unusual step of breaking board confidentiality rules to support the Government?s plan for the project. In his column he clearly stated where he stands … Continue reading "Fergus Finlay and the maternity hospital ‘gotcha’ trap"Illustration by Tom Halliday

By Anthony Sheridan

HSE board member and Irish Examiner columnist Fergus Finlay is so strongly in favour of the current arrangement for building the National Maternity Hospital that he took the unusual step of breaking board confidentiality rules to support the Government?s plan for the project.

In his column he clearly stated where he stands on the issue. 

Here?s my bottom line. As a citizen, campaigner, and advocate; as a husband; as the father and grandfather of women and girls; there are simply no circumstances under which I would support the development of a new national maternity hospital in Ireland that was influenced by anything ? anything ? other than the public interest and the interests of women.

He then went on to outline the enormous amount of work he and his colleagues on the audit and risk committee put into checking every aspect of the deal to ensure that nothing was left to chance.

We devoted many, many hours, over many months?examining and analysing the huge set of documents that had been developed to give legal underpinning to the project. We worked with senior management colleagues and had the benefit of legal advice at every stage.

Given all that, it would be reasonable to assume that Mr. Finlay is familiar with all aspects of the project and would have no difficulty in answering questions put by those who are deeply concerned about the entire project.

Such an assumption would be badly mistaken. 

During a discussion on RTE radio with Prof. Louise Kenny, who has serious question on the issue, Finlay was unable to answer even the most basic questions. 

For example:  Why is St. Vincent?s so determined to hold on to ownership of the site?

Finlay: 

Well, you would need to ask them that but I would hazard a guess:  I think they see it as a great act of generosity and they don?t understand why they should be asked to go further.  The rest of the world would like them to gift the land to the state, but they haven?t. 

St. Vincent?s have claimed that ownership of the land is required in order to facilitate integrated care.

Prof. Kenny refutes this.  It doesn?t stack up, she said.  There are many hospitals across the UK  and Europe where the leasehold has no effect whatsoever on care integration.

Incredibly, Finlay agreed, contradicting his core claim that everything has been checked,  that months of forensic investigation with the best legal minds has answered all the questions:

I think you can work out arrangements for integrated care without owning the land?I don?t think that?s a good reason.  My hunch is that it?s about tradition, it?s about history, it?s about pride in their own ownership. 

So here we have  a member of the HSE board, the authority that will decide whether the project proceeds or not, guessing and expressing hunches surrounding the most fundamental questions being asked by those who are deeply worried about the consequences if the project is allowed to proceed in its present form.

Finlay was equally befuddled when asked about the worrying inclusion of the term ?clinically appropriate? in the contract.  Kenny said the term was incredibly vague and open to interpretation.  It could mean a doctor having the power to override the wishes of a woman seeking a particular service. 

Finlay:

I think that phrase has been misinterpreted and I wish to god we could find a better phrase that wouldn?t be open to misinterpretation.

When asked if lawyers should come up with a better phrase Finlay did a lot of muttering before lamely concluding with the by now standard excuse of those defending the project ? it would involve further delay.

In addition to his ignorance of the facts Finlay?s attitude was also patronising and insulting, not just to Prof. Kenny but to all those who have genuine worries about the Byzantine conditions surrounding this project.  Effectively accusing Prof. Kenny of being a conspiracist, he asked:

Is it that you really believe that somewhere in the background there?s someone waiting to leap out and say ?we gotcha now??

Clearly Finlay is unaware of or not concerned about a number of clauses in the contract.  For example, the strong possibility that the apparent generous ?10 per annum rent could mushroom into an astonishing ?850,000 per annum if certain conditions are not adhered to.

Given the shady and convoluted shenanigans surrounding this whole deal, only the most naïve would believe that it will not eventually turn into a very, very expensive ?gotcha? trap for Irish taxpayers.

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan Hardly a week passes without a sermon from one mainstream media source or another reminding people of the vital role the sector plays in presenting news and current affairs with honesty and integrity.    The Irish Examiner is particularly strident in warning of the dangers posed by non-mainstream news sources. This example … Continue reading "Irish Examiner and fake news"

By Anthony Sheridan

Hardly a week passes without a sermon from one mainstream media source or another reminding people of the vital role the sector plays in presenting news and current affairs with honesty and integrity.   

The Irish Examiner is particularly strident in warning of the dangers posed by non-mainstream news sources. This example from an editorial marking the first anniversary of Marian Finucane?s death.

The importance of those attributes and the need for good journalism have never been more important at a time when fake news and groundless clickbait continue to flood our social media channels.

In the year ahead, accurate news from trusted sources will continue to play a vital role in dispelling the corrosive force of misinformation.

Unfortunately, for those who place their trust in the Irish Examiner, the ?corrosive force of misinformation? is often employed by the paper, particularly against those who pose a threat to the power of the ruling political establishment.

Just last week [20 April] the paper published what was, in effect,  a fake news story, strongly suggesting that Sinn Fein was responsible for a violent parade by the dissident republican group Saoradh. 

Despite the fact that Sinn Fein had nothing whatsoever to do with the parade, the Irish Examiner had no scruples about making a damaging link between the party and the organisers of the parade.

If Ms McDonald is serious about having companions on historic travels then Sinn Féin will have to address the law and order contradictions which allow extreme republicans to prematurely present an event which ended with petrol bombs and arrests as a ?dignified parade? allied to a tone-deaf refusal to listen to a reasonable request from a family not to march on the anniversary of the murder of a young woman. A murder for which there has still to be a criminal conviction.

This cheap and obvious attempt to blame Sinn Fein for the parade and subsequent violence was all the more reprehensible for falsely linking the party with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in 2019.

In a crude attempt to pretend the article was balanced, and not an attack on Sinn Fein, the anonymous author added:

Events such as masked parades incrementally take the shine off their [Sinn Fein?s] standing even where they are not seen to be the organisers.

This manipulation of news stories by the Irish Examiner is not new.   An even more odious example occurred just before the 2020 election.  Context is vital in understanding this disgraceful example of so-called professional journalism.

Seven days before the election on 8 February an Irish/Times MRBI poll reflected a dramatic rise in support for Sinn Fein over Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. 

The development sent shock waves through the establishment media.  Here, for example, is how the political editor of the Irish Examiner, Daniel McConnell, began an article in response to the poll.

So, just what in the hell is going on?

Three days before the election, on Wednesday 5 Feb, there was an attack on the Glasnevin cemetery memorial wall. The monument commemorates those who died between the Easter Rising in 1916 and the end of the Civil War in 1923,  including British soldiers killed in the conflict. 

The vandals have never been identified but that did not stop the Irish Examiner from, effectively, blaming Sinn Fein for the attack.

It would be utterly wrong to link Sinn Féin to Wednesday night?s attack on Glasnevin cemetery?s memorial wall?

…However, it would be wrong too to pretend that strands of this election campaign, especially Sinn Féin?s online echo chambers, have not created an atmosphere if not encouraging such criminality then making it seem ordinary, almost praiseworthy.

This is sewer journalism at its worst and most dangerous. 

In the lead up to this warping of a news story, the anonymous author wrote of:

the anger, poison and basic dishonesty associated with Sinn Fein supporters on social media. 

Reading this journalistic garbage I can see only one difference between the standards practiced at the  Irish Examiner and the anonymous trolls on social media –  The trolls don?t preach and pretend they operate from the high moral ground.

Copy to:

Irish Examiner editor

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan Writing in the Irish Times recently about the continuing decline of the Labour Party, historian Diarmaid Ferriter asks: Is there really much difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats and would it not make sense for them to coalesce? The same question has been asked many times by journalists and … Continue reading "Labour Party: The unvarnished truth"Prior to 2016 election After the 2016 election

By Anthony Sheridan

Writing in the Irish Times recently about the continuing decline of the Labour Party, historian Diarmaid Ferriter asks:

Is there really much difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats and would it not make sense for them to coalesce?

The same question has been asked many times by journalists and politicians since the people effectively rejected the party in the 2016 election.  The question is always advanced as a possible strategy for rescuing Labour from extinction.

That mainstream journalists and politicians would scramble around looking for strategies to save the party is not surprising but it is disappointing to witness a prominent historian engaging in the same hopeless delusion when he really should know the answer.

So, for Mr. Ferriter?s benefit and other?s hoping that, by some miracle, the Labour Party can be saved ? here?s the unvarnished truth.

The Labour Party is heading for extinction because it is, first and foremost, a loyal member of the ruling political class.  A large and increasing number of voters have come to realise that the party does not represent their interests and vote accordingly.  Election results do not lie, the brutal political reality is out there for everybody to see. 

Also, in recent years, particularly since the economic catastrophe of 2008, more and more voters have come to realise that the political establishment itself is rotten to the core.

The people have delivered the same message in every recent election ? a demand for radical political change.  Labour, instead of answering that call, has doggedly remained loyal to the corrupt political regime that the electorate is rejecting in their droves.

And this is where the difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats crystalises, this is what Mr. Ferriter should know. 

The Social Democrats are anti-establishment, they were created as a direct result of political corruption within the establishment.  The party?s raison d’être is to rid the state of the disease of political corruption that has infected the body politic for decades.

If the Social Democrats was to merge with Labour they would almost certainly suffer the same fate as the Progressive Democrats.  They too came into existence in protest against political corruption, principally under the corrupt politician Haughey.  But over the years and particularly under the leadership of Mary Harney, the party returned to its rotten Fianna Fail roots.  That betrayal of hope and trust signed the party?s death warrant. 

In the run-up to the 1992 election Labour Party leader, Dick Spring convinced many, including myself, that the party was determined to represent the people rather than powerful interests. 

I was particularly impressed when Spring, most unusually, revealed the truth about a fellow ruling elite party when he accurately described Haughey and Fianna Fail?s influence on politics as ?a cancer in the body politic?.

Shortly afterwards, Spring cravingly led Labour into coalition with the ?cancerous? Fianna Fail exposing the naked truth that his true loyalties lay with the power and privileges of the ruling political class and not with the people.

Mr. Ferriter, in common with all mainstream commentators is unaware of or refuses to acknowledge the truth behind the rapidly changing political landscape.  Instead of facing reality, he clutches at straws of hope for the doomed party.

Perhaps, he suggests, Labour may regain momentum if Sinn Fein suffers as a consequence of making hard decisions in government. 

That a negative performance by one party might help save Labour is as ridiculous as the idea that a positive performance of another [Social Democrats] might do the same.

The choice facing Labour is simple ? remain loyal to the current dying political regime or respond to the demands of the people for radical political change by becoming a genuinely radical left wing party.

No prizes for guessing which road Ivana Bacik will take.

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan Just over a century ago Europe and the world was ravaged by war [1914-1918] [Casualties: About 20 million] When the killing was done disease took its turn in the form of the Spanish flu [Casualties: 25 to 50 million] Today, war and disease are still ravaging Europe and the world [Casualties are … Continue reading "Humanity: Zero chance of survival"

By Anthony Sheridan

Just over a century ago Europe and the world was ravaged by war [1914-1918] [Casualties: About 20 million] When the killing was done disease took its turn in the form of the Spanish flu [Casualties: 25 to 50 million]

Today, war and disease are still ravaging Europe and the world [Casualties are in the millions and mounting]

During the week the IPCC issued yet another stark truth concerning human behaviour:

The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.

The critical words here are ?brief and rapidly closing window?. 

So, if over a century, humans failed to end war and prevent disease, what are the chances of keeping that rapidly closing [extinction] window open?

The answer is brutally obvious – Zero.

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan Irish Examiner columnist Alison O?Connor found herself all alone on Valentine?s night last. Claire Byrne/RTE had invited her to participate in a discussion on the dramatic rise in Sinn Fein?s popularity.  As a favourite of the establishment media and strident anti-Sinn Fein commentator Ms. O?Connor probably expected that she would be joining … Continue reading "RTE gives balance – accidentally?"

By Anthony Sheridan

Irish Examiner columnist Alison O?Connor found herself all alone on Valentine?s night last. Claire Byrne/RTE had invited her to participate in a discussion on the dramatic rise in Sinn Fein?s popularity. 

As a favourite of the establishment media and strident anti-Sinn Fein commentator Ms. O?Connor probably expected that she would be joining the usual RTE anti-Sinn Fein panel.

But, amazingly, that didn?t happen, the panel was balanced and fair.  O?Connor seemed to be genuinely confused with the situation.  She began by telling the nation that, given how bad things are, even an opposition of chimpanzees would find it easy to pick it [the Government] off.

This crude and insulting political analysis was followed up with the usual tired guff about Sinn Fein being a ?strange, cultish party? that could cause a lot of offence if it got into power.

But then, O?Connor ran out of words. It was as if she suddenly realised that nobody was really listening to her, that they had heard it all before, and, of course they had, ad infinitum

So, in desperation, she did something that no establishment journalist has ever done before ? she criticised RTE for imbalanced broadcasting.

I would say about some of the debate I heard tonight?that there was some imbalance there.  Listening to some of it you?d think we live in a banana republic and that?s not true? I think balance is important.

O?Connor was confused because by the time she joined the panel, the anti-Sinn Fein side had been routed.

Passionate, articulate Sinn Fein members backed up by others such as Martin Ward and Tony Groves dismantled every argument put by supporters of the political establishment. 

Property developer Michael Flynn?s condescending claim that people were being ?over simplistic? on the housing crisis, and Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeil?s defence of the private sector?s role in solving the crisis was torn to shreds by a well-informed opposition.

The opinions expressed by the eccentric financial advisor and failed politician Eddie Hobbes provided some light relief.  Anybody tempted to take Hobbes seriously has only to recall that after co-founding the far-right party Renua Ireland, he refused to stand for election because he was too busy with other stuff.

And then there was the Fianna Fail politician, Cllr. Briege Mac Oscar who said parties should be judged on their record.  Let?s just repeat that ? a Fianna Fail politician thinks that parties should be judged on their record.  Surely, if that was true, Fianna Fail would be struggling for its very survival?oh, wait.

So what happened in that RTE studio on Valentine?s night when Ms. O?Connor, at one point, found herself all alone in her titanic struggle against the evils of Sinn Fein?

Could it be that RTE was testing out a new producer who was unaware of the station?s long-established policy of packing discussion panels with anti-Sinn Fein commentators?

Or?could it be that the national broadcaster has finally conceded that Sinn Fein is a legitimate political party and the 500,000 plus citizens who voted for the party deserve a fair hearing?

Copy to:

Alison O’Connor

Claire Byrne Live/RTE

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan It appears from a number of recent articles by Irish Times columnist Fintan O?Toole that he is suffering from a very special form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD].  His PTSD is special because it is, apparently, only triggered by flashbacks to republican violence during the Northern Ireland conflict which ended 24 … Continue reading "Fintan’s pain"

By Anthony Sheridan

It appears from a number of recent articles by Irish Times columnist Fintan O?Toole that he is suffering from a very special form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. 

His PTSD is special because it is, apparently, only triggered by flashbacks to republican violence during the Northern Ireland conflict which ended 24 years ago. 

Fortunately, Fintan is not burdened with memories of the violence carried out by unionists and agents of the British government.

He recently expressed his anguish to Irish Times colleague Deirdre Falvey.

I can?t vote for Sinn Féin, because I remember too much stuff, that was so cruel, so inhuman. Planting bombs in cafes and pubs just to kill as many young people randomly as you possibly could. I just can?t deal with it, until they?ve dealt with it.

It seems that PTSD has also affected Fintan?s memory because, to my knowledge, the IRA never pursued a policy of blowing up as many young people as they could. The IRA did, in common with Unionists and British government agents, carry out acts of violence but the age of victims was never a specific policy.    

Cynics might say that Fintan was engaging in a strategy practiced by other less sensitive journalists of portraying Sinn Fein as evil incarnate to young voters in the hope of halting the ongoing decline in support for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. 

Of course that just couldn?t be true because, according to Fintan, the Irish Times is the most unbiased newspaper in the entire world.  In an astonishing revelation he says:

I don?t think there?s any other journalist in the world who can say what I can say now. I?ve worked for 34 years for a newspaper, and nobody?s ever told me what to write, or what I couldn?t write. The lawyers might get involved. But an editor has never said to me, stay away from that, or we don?t agree with that, so you?re not allowed to say it. Never, ever, ever. That?s really precious. l don?t know of any of my colleagues in America or Britain who could say that, even people working for really good respectable newspapers

So, you see, nobody can accuse Fintan?s Irish Times of political manipulation because, as he says, it’s the most perfect newspaper in the whole world, a newspaper that would never, ever, ever tell a journalist what to write.

In another article Fintan again revealed the absolute torment he continues to suffer as a result of the war that ended 24 years ago when he strongly suggested that Sinn Fein TD David Cullinane shouting ?up the Ra? after the 2020 election could lead to renewed slaughter on the streets of Northern Ireland.

Shouting ?Up the ?Ra? is not a performance by historical re-enactors ? it is a live device, primed to explode into contemporary reality.

Surely there?s no better argument for outlawing Sinn Fein, introducing internment and tearing up the Good Friday Agreement.

Ok, that would probably have the side effect of saving Fine Gael/Fianna Fail from political extinction but that would not be Fintan?s intention.  His only wish is to recover from the trauma he has suffered throughout the decades.

He wants to be in the same place as the countless thousands of actual victims who have accepted that the war is over, that Sinn Fein is not planning a return to war, that it?s ok to vote for the party. 

He longs to join with the United States of America, the United Nations, the European Union, the vast majority of citizens of the Republic, the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland and even the British Royal family, who were direct victims of the conflict, in accepting Sinn Fein as a legitimate political party.

But Fintan can?t deal with the pain, not even after 24 years of peace, not yet – he remembers too much.

Copy to:

Fintan

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan One of the most memorable clips from the hilarious BBC comedy Fawlty Towers involved Basil [John Cleese] upsetting a group of German diners by constantly making references to the war. Blissfully unaware of the upset he was causing he warned staff member Polly: Listen, don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once, … Continue reading "RTE: Don’t mention the police investigation"

By Anthony Sheridan

One of the most memorable clips from the hilarious BBC comedy Fawlty Towers involved Basil [John Cleese] upsetting a group of German diners by constantly making references to the war.

Blissfully unaware of the upset he was causing he warned staff member Polly:

Listen, don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.

?Don?t mention the war? has since become a byword for those wishing to avoid discussing embarrassing issues.

But, it seems, RTEs London correspondent Sean Whelan has never heard of it. 

Reporting on the scandal surrounding Boris Johnson, he had this to say on RTEs News at One:

He?s the only Prime minister in Europe as far as I?m aware that?s being investigated by the police and that?s just not a good look.

Here you have somebody who is making the rules for the rest of the country and the police force, the people who investigate crime, are now going to be investigating him and his immediate staff and that just looks dreadful, doesn?t it?

Bryan Dobson, immediately realising that Whelan was blissfully unaware of the embarrassing parallels between the UK prime minister under police investigation and our soon to be Taoiseach, Varadkar, also under police investigation, studiously avoided responding to such a dangerous question.

I suspect that somebody from RTE/Fianna Fail/Fine Gael has since had a word in Whelan?s ear to castigate him for being the only journalist to breach the mainstream media bias protecting Varadkar.

Copy to:

RTE News and Current Affairs

Sean Whelan

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan Here?s a quote from today?s editorial in the Irish Examiner criticising ethical standards in UK politics: The sane, sensible and, at times, sedate manner in which politics is generally conducted in Ireland makes us ill-prepared to understand how otherwise civilised nations can tolerate the most outrageous shenanigans of their political leaders. Here?s … Continue reading "Irish media mote in the eye"

By Anthony Sheridan

Here?s a quote from today?s editorial in the Irish Examiner criticising ethical standards in UK politics:

The sane, sensible and, at times, sedate manner in which politics is generally conducted in Ireland makes us ill-prepared to understand how otherwise civilised nations can tolerate the most outrageous shenanigans of their political leaders.

Here?s a reality check for this publication:

Leo Varadkar is due to become Taoiseach again within months.  He is still the subject of a criminal investigation.  There has been practically no recognition, analysis or outrage from mainstream media to this impending disgrace on our country.

In the UK, the ?outrageous shenanigans? of political leaders are mercilessly scrutinised and condemned.  In Ireland, mainstream media is ultra-selective about which political parties are to be condemned.

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan Nearly 4,000 years ago Hammurabi, king of Babylon, wrote a code of laws.  Here?s one of his laws for builders: If a builder constructs a house for a man but does not make it conform to specifications so that a wall then buckles, that builder shall make that wall sound using his … Continue reading "King Hammurabi: Builders law"

By Anthony Sheridan

Nearly 4,000 years ago Hammurabi, king of Babylon, wrote a code of laws

Here?s one of his laws for builders:

If a builder constructs a house for a man but does not make it conform to specifications so that a wall then buckles, that builder shall make that wall sound using his own silver. (233)

If our government adopted this law the estimated ?3.2 bn cost of the Mica redress scheme would fall on the builders responsible and not on the taxpayer.

But for that to happen the government would also have to adopt Hammurabi?s principle motive for writing his code of laws.

To prevent the strong from oppressing the weak and to see that justice is done to widows and orphans.

For so long as the current political class remain in power the weak will never receive protection from the strong.

Anthony
By Anthony Sheridan ‘Please note, although this controversy occurred over a month ago and was the subject of an excellent article by Vanessa Foran, I believe the hostile reaction by mainstream media to Paddy Cosgrave’s anti-corruption campaigning deserves as much coverage as possible.’ On November 6 last, Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford wrote an article … Continue reading "Michael Clifford: low standards in journalism"

By Anthony Sheridan

‘Please note, although this controversy occurred over a month ago and was the subject of an excellent article by Vanessa Foran, I believe the hostile reaction by mainstream media to Paddy Cosgrave’s anti-corruption campaigning deserves as much coverage as possible.’

On November 6 last, Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford wrote an article that can only be described as gutter journalism at its very worst.

The target of Clifford?s attack was entrepreneur and anti-corruption campaigner Paddy Cosgrave. 

Cosgrave is co-founder of the hugely successful Web Summit and used that platform at this year?s event to highlight very serious allegations of corruption against then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. 

The allegations, published by Village Magazine, claims that Varadkar illegally leaked a confidential document related to negotiations for a new General Practitioner contract.  The allegations are so serious that Varadkar is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

Cosgrave brilliantly used the event, attended by 43,000 people from 128 countries, to expose to the world the rot that lies at the heart of Ireland?s governance. 

After projecting a giant image of the Village Magazine cover that described Mr. Varadkar as a ?law breaker?, Cosgrave invited the whistleblower, Chay Bowes and the editor of the magazine, Michael Smith, onto the stage. 

Clifford focused his attack on Cosgrave and whistleblower Bowes.  He openly questioned Bowes integrity by comparing his courage to the guest of honour at the event, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

To present the whole farrago as an introduction to Ms Haugen, a genuine, courageous whistleblower, was arguably insulting to her.

Clearly, Clifford does not believe that Bowes is a genuine whistleblower despite the fact that his revelations triggered a criminal investigation into the then prime minister of our country.  

The journalist then attacked Cosgrave by inaccurately claiming he linked the notorious activities of Weinstein and Epstein with Varadkar?s alleged crime.

Clifford wrote:

To leave open the possibility to an uninformed audience that whatever he did could be bracketed in notoriety with the activities of Weinstein and Epstein is contemptible.

Clifford then, hypocritically,  did exactly what he had just [falsely] condemned Cosgrave of doing.  He linked the notorious journalist, Gemma O?Doherty with Cosgrave?s actions.

Once upon a time, Gemma O?Doherty held a similar role in the public square before she took a sharp turn to the right. There is no reason in the world to believe that Paddy would follow her but you have to wonder what exactly he will do next.

So why the hypocrisy, why would Clifford insult and condemn one whistleblower and his supporter and praise another?

The answer, I believe, depends on who the whistleblower is and who they are exposing. 

Ms. Haugen is an American citizen, she?s an outsider.  Her whistleblowing poses no threat to those who rule the roost in Irish politics. 

But, in the eyes of an establishment journalist like Clifford, Cosgrave?s relentless and effective anti-corruption campaigning is a direct threat to the power of the ruling political class that he and his newspaper so strongly support.

And Clifford himself, helpfully, provides the evidence for the truth of this claim.

In defence of Varadkar he writes:

He [Varadkar] was stupid rather than corrupt and he may have broken the law but there was no personal gain in it for him. 

If it was just a case of stupidity on Varadkar?s part then surely we can expect the Gardai to drop their criminal investigation now that this journalist has delivered his judgement on the case? 

It also appears that Clifford does not believe that political corruption is a crime.  How else can we reconcile his view that ?Varadkar may have broken the law but he?s not corrupt’? 

Even more bizarre, particularly for a journalist, is Clifford?s suggestion that there should be no accountability if there was no personal gain in the crime.

But Clifford doesn?t operate alone in the establishment media bubble. His boss, political editor of the Examiner, Daniel McConnell expressed similar views in defence of that other stalwart of the political establishment, Simon Coveney, during the Zappone cronyism scandal.

Coveney is not a crooked politician, McConnell told the nation adding –

The true scandal here has been Coveney and Fine Gael?s utter failure to kill this off long before now. 

Here we have a journalist, the political editor of one of the most influential newspapers in the country suggesting that the ?killing off? of a serious scandal involving cronyism and possible law breaking should take precedence over political accountability.

I wrote before about the disturbing malaise that?s eating away at standards in Irish journalism.  Clifford?s intemperate and biased rant is a particularly nasty example of that malaise.

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Michael Clifford

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