The Irish Times has yet again made an entirely cynical intervention in its bid to force its agenda on the campaign to get rid of the hated 8th Amendment. This time in the form of an opinion poll constructed to reinforce the idea that abortion is a constitutional issue rather than a medical one.
The internet brought many advantages to radical organising, not least the speed at which movements can grow and the ease with which complex ideas can be made available to almost everyone. But there were certainly negative side effects and here I want to look at what is probably the most important of these, the move away from sustained collective organising, analysis and preservation of lessons.
It’s useful to start with the statement that there is not point looking back to the past and wishing we where there instead of here, or in a very similar fashion just demanding the ‘discipline’ of past periods without understanding why that discipline was organic to that period.
The easiest way to understand what I mean is to understand the collective newspaper publishing projects of the past. There required many individuals to pool their efforts & cash to produce often well crafted and widely distributed papers. At the time unless you were wealthy this was the only option to reach many people. When printing was technically difficult and expensive it demanded considerable resources from a lot of people in order to distribute your message. And because a lot of resources were going into the distribution of what was a very limited number of words it made sense that a lot of time was spent on what exactly those words were.
RTE Drivetime engaged in some shameful clickbait trolling on Twitter last night to try and get a few more listeners. While they have congratulated posh schools for engaging in token sleep outs they decided to directly attack the occupation of Apollo house and its bringing into use as an emergency shelter for homeless people.
Listening to Morning Ireland on regime radio on the 7th of November we were surprised to hear the word lock out used only in the context of pupils being locked out of schools. The term has been carefully avoided when it comes to the teachers locked out by their employers.]
Thousands of teachers are locked out of their place of work that morning despite turning up as normal. The ASTI twitter account has sent many photos of teachers standing outside closed schools around the country, some 60% of secondary schools are closed.
Ireland is in the midst of a massive popular awakening as hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to protest the introduction of water charges. After too many years of austerity it would appear the people have decided enough is enough and almost spontaneous rebellion has appeared in every town and city. Confrontations between Gardai and campaigners that are reminiscent of the suppression of protest in Rossport have erupted in Dublin suburbs.
The images show two examples where the Media in Greece has been caught lying ahead of Sunday's referendum. One of our readers tell us that what the media are saying is "If you vote No, zombies will rise, nuttella will turn bitter, a comet will strike Greece, etc etc etc etc. That's how ALL Greek TV channels are these days! They all make FOX NEWS look like a kindergarden.
A couple of our Greek readers had commented asking us to highlight the outrageous abuse of press freedom going on in the Greek media ahead of Sunday's referendum vote.
The Irish Times has decided to give loads of space today (2 June) for Denis O'Brien to publish an unchallenged self pity but am I not great piece. Denis trots out the now old line about him only being an ordinary private citizen without perhaps even being aware the rest of us ordinary private citizens lack both the power to demand our own IT column or the wealth & power to intimidate almost every media outlet into silence. He even says the decision to do so was made by him in a nanosecond!
The last 24 hours (29th May) have demonstrated the truth of 'If you want to know who really rules you find out who you are not allowed to criticise'. As the image shows billionaire media mogul Denis O'Brien has managed to almost completely suppress stories about him in the few outlets he does not control.
Those media outlets he has ownership of seem to have somehow missed TD Catherine Murphy's revelation that somehow O'Brien had managed to only pay 1.25% interest on the 500 million he owed to IBRC (in effect to us) rather than the expected market rate of around 7.5%. The difference costs us about 30 million a year.
This isn't the first story of O'Brien getting a good deal from the IBRC. Almost a year ago the Irish Times reported "in a deal that again involved the writing down of bank debt. O’Brien took a controlling interest after he bought about €304 million of the Topaz Energy Group’s] loans from the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), in liquidation,for a reported €150 million."
The National Union Of Journalists (NUJ) has expressed concern over Denis O'Brien silencing of media and the role his control over much of the media plays in the lack of media opposition.
The NUJ are concerned that the media failure to defend Dáil privilege may shatter public trust. Then more cynical amongst us might think that would be a good thing, for too long media outlets in Ireland have been spoon feeding the population with one side of the news in the service of those with wealth and power. O'Brien is at least doing us the 'favour' of making the control those with power over what can and cannot be reported very obvious.
NUJ Irish secretary Séamus Dooley has warned that faith in the media would be shattered if proprietors and editors did not challenge threats to parliamentary democracy and freedom of expression.
The saga of Denis O'Brien trying to stop the media reporting on his relationship with IBRC continues this evening. A short while ago a story reporting on what was said about the deal in the Dáil today vanished from the Irish Times website. Our picture is the screen grab of that story.