Author Archives: Gavan Titley

By Gavan Titley

Let’s clear up the cloud of political correctness hanging over Ireland.

Phil Hogan wasn’t being racist.

First, some science. It can’t be racism because Travellers aren’t a race – it’s not like Dolce & Gabbana will make ironic, not-racist Traveller tribute earrings, is it?

So when a minister intervenes to deprive people of their social rights, solely on the basis of their identities, in a context where he ignored violence against other Traveller families, burnt out solely on the basis of their identities, well, find a word that doesn’t sound so much like an accusation.

Yes, he subsequently slandered the Carthy family as ‘anti-social’, but, if not them, right? Don’t make “just representing my constituents’ wishes” sound like “just following orders”.

Remember, racism isn’t defined by the effects of discrimination and exclusion on people’s lives. It’s defined by whether those doing the discriminating and excluding feel comfortable with their politics being ‘labeled’. And Phil just wasn’t comfortable.

While we’re at it, please note that Phil wasn’t ‘sexist’ either. When he made a ‘crude sexual insult’ to his party colleague, Anne O’Connell, leaving her ‘completely traumatised’, after which he ignored her request for an apology, we shouldn’t necessarily conclude that a dedicated supporter broke ranks because she was being too sensitive.

But Big Phil is Big. Raw, unmediated, unlike James Reilly he needs no pretty xx’s on his texts from Terry Prone. Who would want to tame the very qualities that make him such a political success?

[Darren Scully’s note to self: Travellers, not Africans]


Gavan Titley is lecturer in media Studies at NUI Maynooth and vice-chair of the ‘Diaspora, Migration and Media’ section of the European Communication Research Association

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

By Gavan Titley

Because the young Europeans must now step up to the plate.

Vote yes to supplement Lumumba jokes with feta gags.

To pretend that public expenditure is the root problem. To stop bombs going off in Dublin. To scupper the annoying remnants of democracy on the elastic voodoo of ‘the structural deficit.’

Vote yes if you liked Kenny doing Sarkozy impressions in Athlone. Vote yes for internships.

Vote yes because the treaty is a cushion that will under no circumstances be used to smother you* (*terms and conditions may apply).

Vote yes for that second bailout that we categorically didn’t need.

Vote yes for access to a fund that we can access if we can’t access the bond markets, but for which we will have to borrow billions from the bond markets to pay in our share.

Vote yes to rearrange deckchairs on the iceberg. Vote yes to support Labour’s bid for caviar on the Dail menu.

Yes to a treaty that the Bundestag rejected and the French have declared impossible in its current form.

Vote yes because The Irish Times does fret dreadfully about popular sovereignty. Vote yes because the Shinners will vote no and that 80s vibe still feels nice and comfortable.

Vote yes because Noonan thinks that Ireland being the only country in which this could pass is something to boast about at a business breakfast.

Yes to magical growth plans lashed up on Powerpoint.

Vote yes to pretend the capitalist crisis will go away.


Gavan Titley is lecturer in media Studies at NUI Maynooth and vice-chair of the ‘Diaspora, Migration and Media’ section of the European Communication Research Association

The Moriarty report is very long, but gripping. It is a little too postmodern for my tastes – since early yesterday its characters have been leaping from the page, eager to offer their own definitive versions of why the story is just so wrong. As always, when it comes to one of the now ritual glimpses into the ‘synergies’ pursed by Irish business and political elites, Marx’s discredited camera obscura notion of an ideologically inverted world makes a return. How else to interpret a cast of characters that presents lying under oath as an opportunity to grow as a person, corruption as an under-valued form of public service, and corporate raiders as victims of a world of prejudice?

“So let’s cut instead to a footnote to the affair. Over the last weeks, the tax exiles O’Brien and Desmond – plus a porn-loving banker, a phone-tapper, a good friend of Gaddafi and a ward of Nama – have been busy putting Ireland First. This alpha list of ‘can-do’ people and ‘top talent’ presented their blue-sky thinking on reform, that is, a cut and paste of reactionary positions on welfare, public service and the pragmatic need for a wee bit more control over the media. Normally, focusing on ‘bad guys’ is a sure way to lose sight of the systemic problem. However, the next time you hear these Dragon’s Den Democrats gush about their liathróidí and the need for the little nimble people to be made competitive, make a big exception.

Gavan is Lecturer in Media in NUI Maynooth, and a contributor to Crisisjam on

The campaign has been precisely the kind you’d expect in a context where the most fundamental decision facing the country is avoided, and where the real decision-makers don’t run for election. Informed opinion from left to right suggests that some form of default is inevitable. The broad strokes of the ‘austerity’ policies trumpeted by Fine Gael, and bashfully coded by Labour, are dictated by the terms of the IMF-EU agreement. So despite the fact that the political landscape will be changed significantly by this election, there is more than a hint of The Apprentice about it all. The candidates can swear all they like about their commitment and liathróidí, but Bill isn’t going to let them do any real business.

And we all know what happens when the apprentices get smacked around the head with penny apple wisdom. They turn on each other. That is our social future.

We have heard endlessly from the big parties and their media cheerleaders about a turn away from ‘auction politics’. No such turn away has happened; the nature of the auction has changed. In this auction, you’re not told what precisely you are buying. We are all promised pain, but nobody admits that the scale of the ‘pain’ required by the austerity lockdown, and the unjust impact on the poor, will rip the social fabric apart.

Labour may well give a Pat Rabbitte sigh and participate in this historical re-shaping of the state. For Fine Gael, that’s all part of the fun.

Gavan is Lecturer in Media in NUI Maynooth, and a contributor to Crisisjam on