Just Doing His Job

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tubridyRyan Tubridy during Friday’s Late Late Show

Further to Friday night’s Late Late Show.

Julien Mercille writes:

Last Friday Paul Murphy TD of the Anti-Austerity Alliance was on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show where Ryan Tubridy questioned him about the water charges protests that have sprung up throughout Ireland recently.

Many on social media have noted how Tubridy was biased against Murphy, showing that he disapproved of the protests, or at least the ones that involve civil disobedience.

Another way to see it is that Tubridy was pretty good from the standpoint of protecting government interests. He’s paid handsomely for that. His current salary is €495,000, and in 2011 it was €723,000. He asked all the right questions to try to discredit the water charges protests and Paul Murphy by:

– Bringing up the protests that left Joan Burton in her car for two hours during which she was apparently ‘intimidated’ and asking multiple times whether this was ‘appropriate’ and saying the protest should have been more ‘civilised’.

– Asking whether Paul Murphy gets a ‘thrill’ from being arrested because this allows him to get in the media.

-Bringing up the protest against President Michael D. Higgins and suggesting it was wrong because the President shouldn’t be challenged.

– Asking why would anyone protest the water meters closer than 20 meters if the courts said they should stay beyond 20 meters.

– Trying to picture Paul Murphy as being ‘anti-everything’ but not proposing any positive alternative.

Those are standard tactics of a media establishment that fears real democracy. Real democracy involves more than voting for two or three similar parties once every few years. It is about people being able to make decisions that affect their own lives and participate in policy at the national and local level.

The problem with that from the establishment’s viewpoint is that the policies that would be favoured by the majority of people would often turn out to be completely different from those that have been imposed on us over the last few years of austerity.

For example, who, other than the government, would want to implement policies that have forced 31% of the population into deprivation, up from only 12% in 2007?

Who would cut violence against women programmes by 38%? Who would cut health care spending by a mind-boggling 27%? Or community development by 44%? Or drugs programmes by 37%?

The media used rather flimsy arguments to try to cast a negative light on those who protest. We’re still talking about Joan Burton’s feelings while in her car, but less so about those who have suffered from the cuts.

The strongest reason gathered to oppose protesting the President is that… well, he’s the President, after all. If you oppose cutting government services, you must be doing so for personal glorification, not because you care about people. Or maybe you just reject everything like an immature child.

The sole mention of civil disobedience brings hysterical reactions, even though it’s been used around the world to resist immoral policies. Howard Zinn, the celebrated American historian, put it this way during the Vietnam War (Hollywood’s Matt Damon read those lines in a video here):

‘Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty.
Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. We are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it.
People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need that kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing.’

Those thoughts should enter the media debate in Ireland.

@JulienMercille is lecturer at UCD and the author of The Political Economy and Media Coverage of the European Economic Crisis: The Case of Ireland. He will provide evidence to the Banking Inquiry {in March] on the role of the media during the housing bubble years.

Earlier: The Paul Murphy Takedown

122 thoughts on “Just Doing His Job

  1. AlisonT

    Article written by a public servant with a job for life who works about 9 hours a week and gets payed a couple of hundred thousand for it. Paul Murphy is advocating that people break the law and now some people don’t want him questioned about it.

    1. Mani

      Could…could you possibly address his points rather than attack him? Don’t get me wrong, personal attacks ARE fun but it’s almost like you want to distract from the points he’s making for some reason.

      1. Mister Mister

        “Address his points rather than attack him”.

        Somewhat ironic when you read the rest of this thread.

        1. Mani

          I don’t think you know what irony means, I despair for your imaginary scatological toddler and the education he’s getting.

    2. Jane

      Well, I think his analysis is surprisingly facile, but you’d be crazy to think that he earns a couple of hundred thousand or anything like it, or that he has a job for life. More likely, he’s picking up a few hours and getting paid for the hours he works without any kind of stable contract (if UCD hasn’t changed beyond recognition).

  2. Jane

    I agree with most of the post, but not about the part referring to the president. Since he’s largely powerless, protesting against him is worthless harrassment of an elderly man – it hardly matters what he thinks, wants or believes. In a sense, it shows the protester’s lack of engagement with politics in general which is, of course, symptomatic of the fact that the protesters are largely drawn from the most deprived and disengaged parts of our society.

    That is not a criticism of the protesters, by the way, I think it illustrates the extent to which this country works for a certain demographic and does not work at all for everyone else. The fact that I know that protesting the president is unlikley to effect any change is because I’m one of the lucky ones for whom the system works and for whom engagement with it can yield results.

    1. JimmytheHead

      The President is a public servant, albeit a well seated and powerful one – but a public servant nonetheless and is therefore open to scrutiny by the public. I do not agree with him being called a midget parasite, but you could excuse someone who may not have a private school education and alot of wealthy associates from saying something so crude.

      Sorry, I could… maybe not you.

      1. Jane

        I’m not sure when it became the rule that being a public servant means that you’re fair game for any abuse that happens to strike anyone at any time to give? When did that become part of the job description?

          1. Jane

            Oh right. Now, you see, some of us would say that there’s a difference between holding people to account for the roles they perform and screaming pointless, random abuse at them, but clearly that’s not the case.

          2. JimmytheHead

            If your job is to represent the greater public, then whatever scrutiny they see fit to bestow upon you is relevant. As I said in my first reply – I dont agree with that foul language personally but given the context, a vulgar response should be expected.

          3. smoothlikemurphys

            “but given the context, a vulgar response should be expected.”

            Surely you mean ‘could’?
            Or are you suggesting that people ‘who may not have a private school education and alot of wealthy associates’ are actually incapable of saying anything that’s not crude, and in some way should be excused from manners for life?

      2. Armin Tamzarian

        “but you could excuse someone who may not have a private school education and alot of wealthy associates from saying something so crude.”

        Would you extend that same courtesy to someone of the same social sphere if they were to say use a racial slurs against someone?

        but if we’re talking toddlers, mine drink the toilet brush water the other day, worst than bin juice!

    2. d4n

      Actually protesting the President is quite useful simply because it demonstrates the feelings of the protesters. These kinds of protests are hugely dependent on momentum, and it helps to maintain that. Although lacking much in the way of power the president’s duties include representing the people, to other state’s representatives, to the public at large and to other politicians, protests make fairly clear what representations he should be making.
      Obviously it also maintains the subject of the protest as newsworthy.
      Getting called a midget parasite or whatever by some individual is irrelevant, if anything it only shows the anger felt by those being screwed by our government.
      Also, the idea that protesters have to fill some snobbish criteria before they’re fit to voice their concern is laughable, as is the entire notion of properly engaging with the system, the system has proved itself unwilling to engage ad nauseum, the protesters are attempting to force engagement, and should do so on their own terms.

  3. Owen

    I get embarrassed to be Irish when I hear Paul Murphy speak. He is a broken record fighting a personal battle. He will always push for escalation, even when the point is clearly past. I fear he will stay in ‘politics’ and we will have to put him with him ranting about something for the next few decades.

    1. Odis

      @ Owen – Oh yeah?
      You can pick your friends but not your politicians?
      Any chance of a lecture on the meaning of democracy?

      1. Owen

        I fail to see your point. Are you saying I don’t have to vote for him? Are you implying we live in a true democracy? Surely the point of this article contradicts that. Did you vote for the current government? My point is that I don’t like him. I think he is bright and articulate, but he has a very clear personal agenda and we will hear about it every step he takes in his career with statements like ‘I was on the front line in 2014 for the IW protests’…’I fought for this state’ etc. Whatever about RTE’s agenda, at this point he has his own too and its not to stop water charges. Lets not be idiots about it.

  4. Truth in the News

    If Tubridy is being “given” 495 Thousand Euros by RTE p/a
    for what, then its time RTE face the same public wrath as Irish
    Water….it would appear that Tubridy and the gene pool that he
    springs from, resent a peacefull public uprising, yet it was
    all right for his Grandfather Todd Andrews to organise and to
    take part in a volient one, and even engage in a civil war.
    Adams was right telling him some time ago that his Grandfather
    was a “gunman” too…..was Todd Andrews involved in burning
    down of the Customs House…..?… now the HQ of Alan Kellys
    Dept of the Environment.

  5. Zak Martin

    Paul Murphy’s treatment on the Late Late Show was an absolute disgrace. Ryan Tubridy’s hostile attitude towards Murphy – a man whose only “crime”, whether or not you agree with his politics, was to take part in peaceful protests and campaign on behalf of Ireland’s poor and dispossessed – was in stark contrast to his obsequious and effusive interview with war criminal Tony Blair, the man directly responsible, with George W Bush, for the slaughter of almost a million Iraqi civilians, and for the current situation in the Middle East.
    Tubridy clearly lives in a parallel universe if he thinks it’s appropriate to attack a peaceful activist who is fighting against political corruption, yet lick up to a mass murderer and allow him to promote his book on the national broadcasting channel. Tubridy is an embarrassment to the country and should be sacked.

  6. Kevin M

    Julien Mercille is right again. Look at the way Enda was treated on Prime Time, now look at the way Tubs treated Paul Murphy. That is the point.

    As for water protesters being unhappy about lack of media coverage or that their words are taken out of context, perhaps you should talk to them or read their media before you make such comments. There is no media representation of the anti water campaign in the mainstream. Bloggers and social media are spreading the message. Would you blame people for being sceptical of the national broadcaster, the privately owned papers etc.?

    And finally, Paul Murphy is not running the anti water charge campaign, he is a part of it. The media are scrambling to find a villain for this campaign. They completely blew the protest of the President, an elected official, out of proportion yet say nothing about the constant provocation of protesters by FG, by the guards and by private security firms. The people of Dublin and the country have shown immense patience and I for one would applaud them.

  7. Frilly Keane

    Da’ück if I’m picking back up where I left off.
    So for Mister
    2004 (June) was that 12% demand

    For Rob.G.
    Tune in a bit closer.
    Yes. I can afford to pay Water Charges
    And I am not against Water Charges.
    I have even considered putting in my own meter.

    I am against Irish Water.
    It is a scam.

    I am also against this Government, Payroll Increments, Benchmarked Pensions that go beyond death, and absurd payoffs, appointments, and promotions.

    I am sh1t sick of the jobs for the boys and friends of the boys
    I am sh1t sick of the inequity, the inequality and downright inanity of decisions that starts and ends with Public Life in this Country.

    Fine Gael have got into Government with only one job to do. To sort themselves and their own out handsomely.
    The Labour Party Elders have ücked off to their feathered nests and left their working class roots in the gutters, the hostels and now the prisons.

    Fianna Fail can only hope the Shinners don’t take all their votes.

    Ta’ück if I’m going to let this crowd, and the crowd before them, go down quietly.

  8. Ppads

    There was always a marginalised minority of politicos in Ireland who argued that society was more important than economy but the church managed society then which may explain why even after taking on such unjust debt, the media slants everything towards profit. The popular rise of the Left is definitely new and light weights like Turbidity have no idea how to engage outside their light entertainment (bullshit?) bubble.

  9. Wayne Carr

    The amount of self-important prats on this website beggars belief. We all know full well you’re going to vote for FF, FG, or Labour at the next election. So stop pretending like any of you care.

    “Ooooh, there are no other choices. Ooooooh, Gerry Adams was in the IRA. Oooooooh, the Green Party are bad because they actually introduced Green policies while in government. Ooooooh. Fianna Fáil for ever!”

    I hate to use that old trite cliché about politics, but the body politic really do get the government they deserve.

  10. Gavin

    I think a lot of people simply miss the point here or approach these discussions with a pre-frothed mouth. Nobody is saying Murphy failed to respond to the questions or cried or wet his pants, he did a pretty good job all in all. The point is the National Broadcaster clearly, CLEARLY showed itself to be biased and to have an agenda that supports the current government. If you cant see that and still insist there was nothing wrong with this interview all I can say is that I really hope your kind are few and preferably sterile.

  11. Dooley

    As an ex-pat I’m glad to see the Irish finally beginning to get off their procrastinating behinds and come together in a bid to seek justice for all the corrupt doings by the absolutely controlled elected idiots in the Dail. This should have happened 10 years ago but seemingly the X-factor and big brother had priority and still does by the majority on the island. I see the protests online with thousands of people taking part. Absolutely fanatic, only thing is I’m afraid only a really tiny percentage of people have knowledge regarding the BIG PICTURE. The economic and social problems in Ireland are just a piece of the global puzzle and again the average water protester hasn’t a clue. People really need to stay widening their peripheral vision and tale note of what’s going on in the world. Kenny And his cronies are just firing into place nicely for the controllers of the BIG PICTURE. In other words the problems being instigated by these so called leaders in Ireland are being dictated by forces outside Ireland and by that don’t mean Europe or the UN or any other Organization. It’s all much, much bigger and my attempts to educate a lot of Irish on this has simply lead to a spring of the messenger. Wake up people, wake up now, stop this deliberate stamping down of the people in its tracks now, bring Kenny and all active members of government ( which incidentally means “mind control”) to justice. They alk must be held directly responsible and that also goes for the past government including mc cowen and everyone in power then. Take a page or off the Iceland book. You ate all being deliberately dumbed down, trodden upon which leads to more economical and social problems which the Irish bow to and past the bill for. How long will this go on? Knowing the Irish it silk never go away or be forced away because as they say “ah sure what can ye do about it anyway” or the classic, “ah sure what can ye do about it anyway”.

  12. Dooley

    As an ex-pat I’m glad to see the Irish finally beginning to get off their procrastinating behinds and come together in a bid to seek justice for all the corrupt doings by the absolutely controlled elected idiots in the Dail. This should have happened 10 years ago but seemingly the X-factor and big brother had priority and still does by the majority on the island. I see the protests online with thousands of people taking part. Absolutely fantastic, only thing is I’m afraid only a really tiny percentage of people have knowledge regarding the BIG PICTURE. The economic and social problems in Ireland are just a piece of the global puzzle and again the average water protester hasn’t a clue. People really need to start widening their peripheral vision and take note of what’s going on in the world. Kenny and his cronies are just fittng into place nicely for the controllers of the BIG PICTURE. In other words the problems being instigated by these so called leaders in Ireland are being dictated by forces outside Ireland and by that don’t mean Europe or the UN or any other Organization. It’s all much, much bigger and my attempts to educate a lot of Irish on this has simply lead to a shooting of the messenger. Wake up people, wake up now, stop this deliberate stamping down of the people in its tracks now, bring Kenny and all active members of government ( which incidentally means “mind control”) to justice. They all must be held directly responsible and that also goes for the past government including mc cowen and everyone in power then. Take a page out of the Iceland book. You are all being deliberately dumbed down, trodden upon which leads to more economical and social problems which the Irish bow to and apparently are happy to pay the bill for. How long will this go on? Knowing the Irish it will never go away or be forced away because as they say “ah sure what can ye do about it anyway” or the classic, “ah sure we’ll see what happens”.

  13. Andrew Brennan

    They used to be in thrall to the holy trinity – they’ve switched allegiance now and are in thrall to the Troika.

    They were cheer-leading the so-called Celtic Tiger, and then switched to cheer-leading Austerity; Now they’re cheer-leading the so-called Recovery!

    But the numbers are chilling as the article points out:

    31% of the population into deprivation, up from only 12% in 2007?

    Cuts to Violence against Women programmes by 38%?

    Cuts to health care spending by a mind-boggling 27%? – in 2008, fifteen people were dying each and every day due to inequality – and particularly Health inequities! That attrition rate has surely increased.

    Cuts to Community Development by 44%?

    Cuts to Drugs Programmes by 37%?

    Lone parents are now being sent over the trenches and are about to lose €80 per week.

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