Wogan’s death in January this year came as a shock to his millions of fans. The legendary broadcaster, who succumbed to cancer at the age of 77, had kept his illness private. When he was forced to pull out of presenting duties on Children in Need and his BBC Radio 2 programme, the reason given was a bad back.
In Wogan: A Legacy, Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy, who often covered for Wogan on his BBC Radio 2 programme including when Wogan became ill earlier this year, details his final contact with the Limerick man.
Other contributors to Wogan: A Legacy include: Mike Murphy, Dermot O’Leary, Henry Kelly, Gloria Hunniford and Fr Brian D’Arcy.
Ah now Ryan! I’ve met you at a Star Wars convention so you obviously have time for a bit of sci-fi. Your remark probably won’t go down well with Star Trek fans. It does imply that we’re all lonesome lads on social media.
Have you interviewed Patrick Stewart Ryan? Please tell him your opinions about Star Trek fans. He once objected when an interviewer described Trekkies as “weird”, calling it a “silly thing to say”. Stewart added, “How many do you know personally? You couldn’t be more wrong.”
Isaac Asimov described us: “Trekkies are intelligent, interested, involved people with whom it is a pleasure to be, in any numbers. Why else would they have been involved in Star Trek, an intelligent, interested, and involved show?”
Maybe in some crazy way you’re just angling for a role in the new Star Trek series out in 2017? ;)
August 2011 Closes his twitter account, with 60,000 followers, saying he ‘was spending too much time on it’.
September 2012,Tells listeners to his 2FM show that he had contacted Twitter US headquarters to get four parody accounts shut down.
’Somebody brought it to my attention that there was a number of them being me. It was only then when it started getting rude and kind of personal that somebody said to me, “You better get those taken down” and I did. I got four of them taken down. I sent off my driver’s licence details and got them taken down. I love humour and I love fun and I love boldness but I won’t tolerate nastiness. That’s where the line gets drawn.’
‘What’s happened more recently with social networking, and particularly Twitter, is that for a long time it was fun and it was like a really nice pleasant party and then the bad guys came along and wrecked it for everyone, hiding behind stupid names,’ he said. ‘There is a whiff of the bedsit off most trolls. It is disappointing. We can’t be beyond criticism but put your name to it. Don’t be a coward.’
”For a long time it was fun. It was like a pleasant party and then the bad guys came along and they wrecked it for everyone hiding behind stupid names” and that people could be “completely moronic” when it came to tweets.”
November 2012 Backing an Irish Sun campaign against cyber bullying, he rails:
“There’s nowhere safe for children now….I worry about it – the whole anti-social network concerns me because there is no policing it. I support any initiative that is to do with trying to crush the virus of bullying. I would be very, very keen to try and highlight what’s happening on the internet. The internet is a lawless place – it’s a dangerous place – there’s no police. I think it’s the nearest thing to the Wild West that we can see in this day and age….”
“the party [Twitter) was over. I left Twitter because it was a time constraint and it was not a great place. It was fun but it was like – I had fun with it for a year and then decided ‘that’s grand’ – it’s a strange place.”
January 2015: On his RTÉ Radio One radio show discussing online trolls who abused the family of a toddler who died from a viral infection, He avers:
“[The words] “online” and “abuse” are starting to go hand-in-hand now and I don’t know what to say to that family. They’ve enough to be dealing with the loss of that little boy than having to go and worry about what’s online. I would urge nearly anyone who ends up in the public eye, for whatever reason, be it for good reasons but particularly for sad or bad reasons, or any reason, not to go online. Don’t read stuff. You don’t have to. It’s just heckling. That’s all it is. It’s heckling. And I wish that this family didn’t even find this stuff. You don’t have to go there if you don’t want to. You can just mourn in your own way without turning on a computer or finding stuff because people will always react and say something horrible. Always. Regardless of how happy or sad your story is.’ He added: ‘I hope that family have the time and the space to mourn the loss of that little boy without having to listen to the white noise of ignorance that can often show itself online.”
December 2015: Interviews the father of a six year old girl who had received criticism online following her appearance on the Late Late Toy show. He fumes:
“That is the way of online, I think … you know, there is this element that will almost be there and you know it . seems to be un-policeable… I’m an adult apparently and I don’t read online because it’s just, it’s too mean spirited and I don’t read it, even if it’s kind I don’t read it…I often say and sometimes it feels like a broken record sometimes it feels like the Wild West out there, there are no laws and there are no rules and there’s no sheriff….So you can have the good guys walking round, like you guys, you know talking about mental health but then you’ve got the he others who are, you know, psychologically challenged, I’d argue and writing this stuff down the bottom of a bottle of wine on a Friday night… I’ll tell you, I walked out of this building on Saturday with bunch of kids in here to sing for, I think it was, Sean O’Rourke, and they chased me down as far as my car singing word for word the My Little Pony song, it’s become a thing… The thing about being offline, you have the democratic choice to be offline and it’s very liberating, so I’d recommend it.”
March 13, 2016: The Sunday Independent records comments made in a recent interview with former RTÉ presenter Diana Bunici for her book, ‘The Pursuit of Awesomeness’, He rages:
“[t]hen online came along and honestly, if you want to depress yourself as a broadcaster, read online. If I could switch off the Internet sometimes I would. Especially for kids and bullying and all the things that are so easy to do for cowards…You used to go to school from 9am until 3pm and then you could switch it off. Now it follows you and the bullies can follow you now, wherever you are, if they want to.”
“I’d rather read a good book than what some guy in a bedsit watching Star Trek thinks about me. I made a decision to go offline a couple of years ago and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
On RTÉ Radio One this morning, Ryan Tubridy interviewed the father of Lara Reddy, age 7, who said his daughter had received abusive messages following her appearance on the Late Late toy show last week.
It gave the host the opportunity to give the internet a piece of his mind.
Which he took.
Grab a strong tay.
Ryan Tubridy: “The Toy Show took place as you know on Friday night and it was great and it was warm and it was kind and people seemed to enjoy it themselves at one stage nearly twp million people gathered round the TV to say ‘yeah that’s good craic’. Families and friends gathered I’ve heard so many lovely stories about reunions and getting together to watch it and I know the London Irish Centre emigrants living over there gathered to watch it they met there and ate crisps and drank beer and had fun it’s just one of those strange things that brings people together I heard of foreigners watching it for the first time and they said that’s a lovely event whatever the hell’s going on there there’s a kindness to it and a magic and a sweetness to it and that’s that’s quite right its a magical night for the children watching and for the children taking part… children like Lara Reddy who’s seven… delightful funny little girl from Swords whose dad is on the line now, good morning, Mark.”
Mark Reddy: “Good morning, Ryan, how are you?”
Tubridy: “I’m all right but I’m not great.”
Reddy: “Ah sorry to hear that.”
Tubridy: “Because I just don’t like what’s happening here…. the main big colour photographs on the front of the Irish Independent and the Irish Examiner and the headline which features yourself on the cover story of the Evening Herald today all features Lara with the words ‘racism’ and ‘abuse’.”
Tubridy: “And trolls.”
Reddy: “Yeah. We arrived back to find that, Ryan, it was a magical experience and we left on a high we came back and we received a bombardment of wonderful supportive comments and texts and messages it was brilliant but one or two of the Facebook pages had what could only be described as trolls who used the opportunity to be very racist with paedophile undertones and very abusive over a three minute sketch of a six-year old having a great time, which is heartbreaking really.”
Tubridy: “Yeah I was kind of I was in two minds as to whether or not we should even be talking today in the sense that this is a very small group of people.”
Reddy: “Very small, thank God.”
Tubridy: “A very angry nasty vile group of people who you know in many ways if we didn’t talk about them here they’d be forgotten about in other words I worry about giving oxygen because the others you know, all the kindness, is far more present and abundant in numbers.”
Reddy: “Oh, massive mass outpouring of kindness.”
Tubridy: “But you’re very keen to talk about this, you want this as an issue.”
Reddy: “Well I’m in two minds, Ryan, it’s an issue that they say don’t feed the trolls but some people and sometimes you have to challenge these things because it’s not fair and it’s not right and it needs to be challenged and it’s not only in this particular case but it’s across the whole media in regard to people making assumptions about organisation much like, let’s say, an Garda Siochana or anybody else and feeling they have the right to bash us and bash a 6 year old child without actually knowing the facts.”
Tubridy: “So when when you were reading this stuff, what were you thinking?”
Reddy: “I was appalled. We were very upset. We tried to stay with the positives… to come back on a high and to see the lovely comments and to see this sort of thing creeping in it made us very worried we would have to share this small and lovely country with people like this…the ignorance is gas Sine’s Vietnamese by birth but they were relating her to North Korea and certain types of Asian people that’s just cruel unintelligent and fairly evil overall and that then couple with that then a sort of tinge of paedophilia and the undertones of that side of things was just very very scary.”
Tubridy: “Hmm. That is the way of online, I think … you know, there is this element that will almost be there and you know it . seems to be un-policeable, was there any sense that Lara’s character was called into question, that you as a family were … any legal grounds?”
Reddy: “It was a tough one to call They used the ‘My Little Pony Song’, which is about a cartoon of plastic animals… this minority there, they are a vile and evil part of life and sometimes they need to be challenged and need to be highlighted and what happens when you do if you do is normally. Most of them will run away and hide, they’ll delete their posts and they’ll run.”
Tubridy: “So when you talk to us this morning what would you like to achieve about this conversation
Reddy: “Well I hope really People will maybe be less judgmental maybe look at the facts and understand that its not appropriate to go on and talk about a child irrespective of your own personal feelings to go on and be negative on media such as Facebook and Twitter is both very dangerous for them and very unfair overall.”
Tubridy: “Well look, I ’m an adult apparently and I don’t read online because it’s just, it’s too mean spirited and I don’t read it, even if it’s kind I don’t read it.. I’m just saying I’m not trying to avoid reality my realty is human beings who say to me this that and the other which I’ll accept but not people hiding in the bushes whereas this is a child and that’s different. You see with children all bets are off you don’t mock a child, you don’t mock or slag a child ever under any circumstances.”
Reddy: “Exactly, we thought that was sacrosanct, nobody would ever said that this would have been in all the media of whom we haven’t talked to and that it was such a big and popular page re the positive side of things but to allow this to filter in was very scary, very scary that somebody felt that they have the right to abuse a child.”
Tubridy: “Well, it’s pathetic actually, they are pathetic people who feel the right and the need to slag off a six year old child to be racist wasn’t there a animal rights job having a go at her as well, seriously lads, it’s My Little Pony…”
Reddy: “You know, you mentioned there about social media, it’s a very strong medium but it can be used for both good and bad and so there’s a lot of people doing very good work on social medial my own twitter account would be mental health and I see that quite a lot, it’s a medium that needs to be monitored and maybe people need to be challenged more about stuff and maybe the likes of Facebook and Twitter should put in place more security with regard to this side of things.”
Tubridy: “If it’s possible I often say and sometimes it feels like a broken record sometimes it feels like the Wild West out there, there are no laws and there are no rules and there’s no sheriff. “
Reddy: “Yeah, that’s very true.”
Tubridy: “So you can have the good guys walking round, like you guys, you know talking about mental health but then you’ve got the he others who are, you know, psychologically challenged, I’d argue and writing this stuff down the bottom of a bottle of wine on a Friday night… I’ll tell you, I walked out of this building on Saturday with bunch of kids in here to sing for, I think it was, Sean O’Rourke, and they chased me down as far as my car singing word for word the My Little Pony song, it’s become a thing… The thing about being offline, you have the democratic choice to be offline and it’s very liberating, so I’d recommend it.”
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.
Ryan Tubridy and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy on the Late Late Show on Friday.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
You may have caught Paul Murphy’s appearance on the Late Late Show on Friday night?
Whether you think Mr Murphy a silly Marxist loon or hi-viz Robespierre it was (in complete fairness) an unusually hostile, poorly researched and unpleasant piece of political chat show-ing.
But don’t take our word for it.
Grab a tay/soft cushion.
Ryan Tubridy: “My next guest is a man of numbers. He spent three years as a member of the European Parliament, he’s been a member of Dáil Éireann for just four months but in his campaigning history, he’s been arrested five times. Would you welcome please, Paul Murphy, TD.”
Paul Murphy enters
Tubridy: “They’re interesting numbers, aren’t they? When they all add up. But you’re welcome to the program, thanks for joining us.”
Paul Murphy: “Thank you.”
Tubridy: “Before we get into the politics, let’s talk about the personal, because we see a lot of you in the political environment but not in the personal. So, let’s get a little bit of your own background. You’re from what part of Dublin?”
Murphy: “I’m from Goatstown.”
Tubridy: “Yeah. And tell me a little bit about the house you grew up in.”
Murphy: “Yeah, normal enough, middle-class upbringing. One brother. One sister. Did well in school. Went to UCD. Did law in UCD.”
Tubridy: “You did more than law, you came first in your class.”
Murphy: “I did.”
Tubridy: “Which is rather impressive. Was it a political house?”
Murphy: “No, not particularly I’d say. There were political discussions in the sense that, like a lot of families, people have opinions and argue about things, be it politics or culture, or whatever. And so there would have been discussion in my house but not…certainly not linked to any one political party and not a socialist house in particular.”
Tubridy: “Cause you were quite young when your father passed away, isn’t that right? How old were you?”
Tubridy: “Eleven. And that would have had an impact on you, no doubt?”
Murphy: “Yeah, yeah of course.”
Tubridy: “In what sense?”
Murphy: “Well, you know, I suppose it was hard for my mother, for any mother, any parent, mother or father bringing up their kids on their own. That’s, you know, a difficult situation for someone. And when I think, you know, that creates an environment in a house whereby you’ve one parent one parent and you understand that there’s a pressure on one parent alone. But…yeah.”
Tubridy: “That was that, that’s the world that you lived in. There was talk, you know, reading about you, there was talk of Fine Gael in your family. Is that the case? Is there…”
Murphy: “Not in my immediate family. I mean, it’s like people will say, your family is Fianna Fáil, I mean my…”
Tubridy: “But I’m not a Socialist TD, you know?”
Murphy: “Sure, sure.”
Tubridy: “I suppose that’s the…”
Murphy: “Yeah, but some of my, in the sense that like it doesn’t say anything about your politics but I think some of my dad’s brothers would be Fine Gael, maybe one or two of them. I don’t think it’s some big Fine Gael family. And I was never aware of that actually, prior to becoming an MEP, you know, some people saying, ‘oh, it turns out you’re a Fine Gaeler’ and I’ve betrayed by Blueshirt roots apparently.”
Tubridy: “Of course, of which, of course you don’t… as far as you’re concerned. So what drew you towards socialism and the Socialist Party because, as you say, you were in law in UCD and then you obviously got your interest piqued politically by something, somewhere along the way.”
Murphy: “Yeah, like a fair number of people, I would have become political quite young, as a teenager. In particular when I was 15, 16, what would have been happening around the world? You had big protests against the IMF, against the WTO, against the World Bank, kind of anti-globalisation, anti-capitalist protests and that would have shaked, shaped my political outlook. And like, at the time, what they were about were like, unfair trade practices, it was about unjust debt, it was about austerity in places like Latin America. Some of the things that have now come to Europe then were kind of very present in Latin America and would have been a radicalising factor and then reading things and beginning to describe myself as a Socialist.”
Tubridy: “You felt that this was where your dreams and ideologies lay?”
Murphy: “Yeah, in a sense I felt that, yeah, if I could do things to make this country, this society, our continent, our world a better place, a less unjust place, a place where you don’t have so much poverty, where you don’t have war, where you don’t have just the misery that people, you know what I mean, forget about this country for even one moment, and think about the 2 billion people in the world who survive on less that $2 a day. So they’re the kind of things that drove me to say, ‘let’s try and change this’.”
Tubridy: “So, what age are you?”
Tubridy: “31, because that puts it into a context, in terms of when that was happening and what age you were at the time. You went on, of course then, to work with Joe Higgins probably up until recently the most famous, if not the only Socialist TD in Ireland for a long time.”
Murphy: “Bertie Ahern apparently was a socialist as well.”
Tubridy: “So they so, or so he said. And then you ended up in Europe.”
Tubridy: “With him (Higgins). Tell us a bit about that.”
Murphy: “Yeah, so we, we didn’t go into the European election campaign in 2009, thinking we were going to win. And we won because the crisis had hit, people were being radicalised, moving to the left, and so we won. That was the first MEP seat we had. And so I moved over to Brussels and, whenever Joe [Higgins] got elected to work on setting up our European office, in the European Parliament, to do all of that. And then, in 2011, when Joe was elected back into the Dáil, I took over as MEP.”
Tubridy: “You were co-opted as an MEP. Ok.”
Murphy: “And so that was, I mean that was some experience. Again, a difficult experience, in the sense that, I mean, all of us sudden, you’re in the parliament, you know, debating with all these people who are, you know, establishment figures, etc. But it was a very good time to be an MEP and a very good time as a socialist to have an MEP because there were massive crisis of capitalism within Europe and like massive austerity being waged in Ireland, Greece and Portugal and so, one of the main things we tried to do was say, ‘Ok, let’s have solidarity of working people, right across Europe’. The idea of fighting for a different type of Europe, a Europe not built for the 1%, for the bankers, for the bondholders but for the 99%.”
Tubridy: “So you came out of the European project if you like, you ran for the general election, you didn’t get elected that time. No, sorry, excuse me, sorry you ran for the Europe… and didn’t get elected that time and then, of course, when Brian Hayes [former Fine Gael TD, now MEP] Fine Gael became an MEP, you took the by-election seat. Did you want to be a TD? Did you dream of being a TD? Did you want to walk the corridors of Leinster House all your…”
Murphy: “Never, I still don’t dream of that.”
Tubridy: “So what are you doing there then?”
Murphy: “Well, because I’m a Socialist activist.”
Murphy: “Right. And I think we can fight for fundamental change in society.”
Murphy: “And it’s so happened, events have happened in my life like, going over to work with Joe and then taking over from Joe, because it made sense at that time. And then the by-election happened. Events have happened that have propelled me as a Socialist activist into playing a particular type of role at this stage.”
Murphy: “Which is being in the Dáil. But it’s not like, I’ve never had any ambition to be a TD or MEP or anything like that but I think, can I play a role in assisting, like the water charges struggle, concretely now in being a TD? Is it a good platform to assist struggles with people? It is. And I think that’s how we can use it.”
Tubridy: “And part of the reason you’re here tonight is you gave, you’ve made quite a name for yourself as part of a very different type of protesting that’s been happening in recent months. We’ll talk about the, obviously, the Joan Burton protest which, of course, became such a talking point in this country. Let’s take a little reminder of that protest and we’ll have a chat about it in a second.’
A clip from RTÉ reporter Sandra Hurley’s report on the Jobstown protest is played. In it, Paul Murphy is seen and heard speaking to the protesters via a bullhorn. From the clip:
Sandra Hurley: “A tense stand-off in Jobstown today as the angry mood against water charges spilled over. The Tánaiste was attending a Higher Education ceremony but, when she left, her car was hemmed in by around 100 protesters. Dozens of garda reinforcements arrived, along with the Garda helicopter and the Public Order Unit. This escalated the tension.”
Paul Murphy: “If they withdraw the Public Order Unit, do we agree to let her go?“
Crowd shouts back ‘yeah’.
Hurley: “Then the unit agreed to step aside in return for protesters agreeing to slowly march in front of the car to let her out. After two and a half hours, some confusion as gardai surrounded the Tánaiste and physically transferred her to another car with some protesters giving chase.”
Tubridy: “Was that a mistake? To do what happened to the Tánaiste that day?”
Murphy: “I don’t think it was a mistake, for me, as a public representative, elected on the basis of opposing water charges, to join in on that protest. That was effectively spontaneously organised by residents the night before and then grew. If I was organising that protest, or if the triple A [Anti-Austerity Alliance] was organising that protest, it would have been a different sort of protest. I mean there’s no question, it was a messy protest. It’s not your ideal situation of how a…”
Tubridy: “Was it ugly?”
Murphy: “I’d say it was messy and I’d say, I mean…”
Tubridy: “Would you say it was ugly?”
Murphy: “Well, I didn’t…I wouldn’t use the word ugly.”
Tubridy: “Would you not?”
Murphy: “I think, afterwards, which was then conflated by Independent newspapers, in particular, afterwards there were ugly scenes. I mean there was a picture that was used again and again of…”
Tubridy: “Can we just talk about that [Jobstown protest]. Don’t mind other newspapers because I’m just gonna deal with what I just saw, and what everyone at home just saw, which was, you know, the Tánaiste, the deputy Prime Minister of the country, trapped in a car for two hours, against her will. Is that acceptable?”
Murphy: “She wasn’t trapped in her car. She was able to leave.”
Tubridy: “She wasn’t going anywhere fast, Paul?”
Murphy: “No, but she left, I mean she moved from one car to the other, right? But the point is…”
Tubridy: “Did I just not, did I just not see you with the bullhorn saying, ‘shall we release her or not?’ If you say such a thing, that suggests that she needs to be released from somewhere, therefore she was not in a voluntary position to move.”
Murphy: “Just this quote and this clip has been used again and again and again, right.”
Tubridy: “Was it made up?”
Murphy: “No but the context of it has been explained again and again and again. And I don’t really believe you don’t know the context because I have explained it so many times. And this is a conscious attempt by the media to demonise anti-water charges so the context…”
Tubridy: “A lot of our viewers may not have seen you on anything, as much as you’d love…”
Murphy: “But you chose to use the clip?”
Tubridy: “We did choose to use the clip.”
Murphy: “But the context, that I’ve explained multiple times, is that the gardaí had explicitly asked me, and if this ever goes to trial, we can find the guard responsible, had asked me to put that question to the crowd. The gardaí wanted to de-escalate the situation and they chose to talk to me.”
Murphy: “As a public representative and so that’s what I did.”
Tubridy: “Do we need to get into semantics of, about the choice of words, ‘do we want to release that Tánaiste from this?’. Is that…am I missing something here?”
Murphy: “But it’s you that has introduced this particular quote?”
Tubridy: “You said it Paul.”
Murphy: “Sure but I’m explaining that I said..”
Talk over each other
Tubridy: “Are you saying the guards put, forced words into your mouth? That you didn’t want to say that?”
Murphy: “No, the guards asked me to communicate that message to the protesters. I wasn’t fully in charge of everything that was happening at the protest. And I was trying to play a role in having a disciplined protest and to bring the protest to an end at a certain stage. That’s what I was doing and that’s what the clip actually demonstrates.”
Tubridy: “Let’s not get lost on that. Do you think, quickly again, I’m really curious, as a public representative, do you think it’s appropriate that the Tánaiste, who I think it’s fair to say, most parties who would look at that would say, felt intimidated? Regardless of your politics, that it was not a pleasant situation for anyone to be in for two hours. Do you think that that was a mistake?”
Murphy: “No. I’ve said that it’s not a mistake. But I tell you..”
Tubridy: “If it happened tomorrow would you..”
Murphy: “No, let’s..”
Tubridy: “Would you roll with it?”
Murphy: “Let’s take it, let’s put it in its context. Because what the media wants to do is just take these individual incidents, right?, and you can show another clip and you can say, ‘what happened here?'”
Murphy: “But the context is, of communities being ravaged because of austerity. The context is of broken promises. If you listen to what was shouted at Joan Burton, overwhelmingly what was shouted was ‘traitor’ because people… Jobstown is a traditionally a Labour Party area, people voted for Labour and then they betrayed them. They cut child benefit, they imposed water charges they’re cutting lone parents [allowance]…and so people are very, very angry.”
Tubridy: “It sounds… I think most right-minded people would understand that anger, Paul to be honest with you but I still am having trouble with you possibly justifying, and people may have trouble with you justifying, the intimidation of a person…”
Murphy: “What am I justifying? No. I’m not justifying any intimidation or anything like that.”
Tubridy: “But you’re condoning it.”
Murphy: “No. What I’m justifying and condoning is a peaceful, sit-down protest behind a car of the deputy prime minister, that has happened multiple times in this country without people having dawn raids without warning, without 23 people arrested at this stage. And I’m condoning and justifying and supporting a slow protest in front of the Tánaiste’s car. There’s been multiple attempts, multiple incidents whereby Taoisigh Charlie Haughey, Bertie Ahern have been stopped in their cars…”
Tubridy: “There just seems…”
Murphy: “Nothing has ever happened like this and it’s not an accident. It’s happening because the establishment is scared. Because they want people to get back in their box because that’s what…it isn’t pure, it isn’t clean, it isn’t…”
Tubridy: “Paul, people aren’t that stupid and I think that, to be honest with you, people felt that this was a different tone to public protest. That it had taken on this very ugly hue that was, that involved this sort of cat-calling, shouting, jeering at people that, you know, may or may not deserve such a thing. Any human being, let alone a politician..”
Murphy: “People don’t deserve? There are people right now locked up, right? For one month and for two months. Five people. And the only reason they’re locked up is for breach of an injunction whereby they’ve gone within 20 metres of a water meter installation. In my opinion that’s much more serious than someone calling Joan Burton a traitor or Joan Burton being held somewhere for two and a half hours. I mean, where Joan Burton was that day, just around the corner there was a couple, whom I later spoke to, who were living in their car, who were homeless.”
Murphy: “Do you know, that’s what they’ve done in this society and then the media is focused on ‘was she called a traitor here? was she stopped in her car for two hours?’ It misses the picture here which is like the structure of violence, the destruction of communities by their policies.
Tubridy: “Maybe if you had orchestrated things a little better, and in a more civilised manner, you mightn’t have made a martyr of the Tánaiste and we wouldn’t be talking about all this..”
Murphy: “If I had orchestrated, this wouldn’t have happened. I didn’t orchestrate it. That’s the point. Right. So I’m aware this protest is happening. I’m in favour of people protesting but we genuinely did not organise it. We arrive on the scene and what role do I play? I attempt to put a shape on the protest, to put a discipline on the protest, I introduce chance into the protest, in order to have a more effective type of protest.”
Tubridy: “You were arrested anyway, as a result of what happened there. You obviously would have felt that was utterly unjustified. Tell us a little about the morning of your arrest.”
Murphy: “Yeah, it’s a bit of a shocking experience. In the sense that, you know, you’re half awake, five to seven in the morning, you get a ring on the door, you open the door, there’s six gardai at the door and they push their way in and tell you that you’re being arrested, under suspicion of false imprisonment of Joan Burton and her assistant.”
Murphy: “And then I was in the garda station for maybe, for eight and a half hours. I was questioned for four hours.”
Murphy: “Again and again, based on media transcripts, and footage from RTÉ, YouTube, etc, etc.”
Murphy: “All to try and stand up the idea that, which they’ve been talking to people in the community and questioning people with a view to pinning me, as being responsible for a protest that I didn’t organise and trying to say that I’m responsible for what’s apparently the false imprisonment of Joan Burton. I mean if that’s false imprisonment, well then anyone who participates in any protest and stops, gets in the way of cars, as happens all the time, are guilty of false imprisonment. I mean it’s some stretching of the term and it’s very serious. Because the maximum sentence for false imprisonment is life in prison. And obviously, like I don’t think that’s going to happen…”
Tubridy: “I would be shocked if that was to happen.”
Murphy: “But that’s the kind of threat that hangs over people. And there’s a whole community now in Jobstown, hundreds participated in that protest and people are scared.”
Tubridy: “Do you not get some class of, forgive the choice of words, but thrill out of being arrested. And I say that on the basis that it’s manna from heaven in some ways because suddenly you find yourself as the top of the media tree in terms of whatever programme you’re going on, including this, you get all the attention you need, you bring all the attention to the cause you fight. And chances of you spending any time in prison are slim to none and yet you get all this coverage?”
Murphy: “Firstly, I have no personal interest in media coverage, I really don’t, you know, I don’t find it a pleasant experience to be going on, talking about your childhood, do you know what I mean? That’s not what I want to do.”
Tubridy: “And yet you’re here.”
Murphy: “Two, yeah, because we use media appearances to try to get the political points across, about how we can defeat water charges, though non payment etc.”
Tubridy: “But you say, ‘I don’t like media’ but you’re always in the media; ‘I don’t like politics, yet you’re in Leinster House’. What do you want?”
Murphy: “I’m trying to do the best I can to try and change the society for the better. And I think that I can do that, including by using media appearances. But it’s not that I have any really, I don’t have a personal like for media, being in the media whatsoever. It’s all a platform to get ideas across. And, like, did I like being arrested? No. I had real things to do that day. I’d people to try and assist. I had homeless cases I was trying to assist. I had, you know, work to do that actually could make a difference to my constituents. There was a guy who was trying to contact me, about a particular case and he wrote to his TD, his Fine Gael, he’d traditionally be connected to Fine Gael and he wrote to them saying, you know, he’s outraged because he was meant to talk to me and he couldn’t because I was sitting…you know, so really, I’ve better things to be doing than sitting in a garda station.”
Tubridy: “We need to talk about the Michael D Higgins protest. Let’s call it that for the sake of it. A quick reminder of that too, in terms of the nature and the tenure of the modern protest.”
Tubridy makes a gesture that indicates a clip is set to be played
Murphy: “Why do we need to talk about it?”
Tubridy: “Well we’ll have a look at it and you tell me…”
Murphy: “But it has nothing to do with me…”
Tubridy: “Well I think it’s self explanatory.”
Murphy: “But it’s nothing to do with me.”
Tubridy: “Let’s roll the tape and the people can decide.”
A clip is played from the protest concerning President Michael D Higgins in Finglas last month, in which President Higgins is called a “midget parasite” by jailed protester Derek Byrne. It also shows a garda pushing a female protester twice and another female protester once.
Tubridy: “So, do you approve of that protest?”
Murphy: “No, I condemned it repeatedly, so I don’t know why you want to talk about it because I’ve been in the media repeatedly condemning the protest, right? And so what’s being attempted is to link that protest and the Jobstown protest and to link them somehow to me. I wasn’t there. I don’t approve of it. I didn’t agree with it, I’ve condemned it repeatedly. So, do you know what I mean, if you had Mícheal Martin in here, would you have him on saying, ‘we have to talk about this’?”
Tubridy: “Well when Mícheal Martin comes on, we’ll decide what we ask him at that time but I’ve got you here so I’m going to talk to you about these things. You’re anti-water charges, you’re part of the water protest movement, which is fine. Are all the people that we saw in that tape and the jeering that went on, those people that did that. You are denying them, in public tonight, saying they were wrong, is that what you’re saying?”
Murphy: “Absolutely and it’s not the first time. I’ve said it repeatedly.”
Tubridy: “Yes but I’m just clarifying more than anything else.”
Murphy: “But I don’t see a need to clarify. In the sense that I was all over the media saying it was wrong. What happened again, and the media is a factor here. Does the media have an agenda? You know…Independent newspapers, it’s owned by Denis O’Brien. Denis O’Brien owns GMC Sierra…”
Tubridy: “We’re not here to talk about… why would you talk to me about Denis O’Brien? He’s not here, I…”
Murphy: “But the reason…”
Tubridy: “I work in RTE…”
Murphy: “But the reason we’re talking about this is because of an inaccurate headline in a newspaper which attempted to portray that I supported that, that is, that’s how this became an issue, Ryan..”
Tubridy: “Paul I’m being straight with you here. I have just saw this clip. I was curious to know what you thought of that. I know you’re out and about in the media a lot of the time but a lot of people who watch this programme don’t follow your career with the intensity that maybe some people close to you would do so.”
Murphy: “Or myself because I’m in it like.”
Tubridy: “Right , ok, so that’s just where I, so that particular tape we saw, and the people involved in that, are all, they’re persona non grata as far as you’re concerned?”
Murphy: “What they did there was wrong, it was stupid, you know, it doesn’t assist in any way the anti-water charges movement.”
Murphy: “That’s clear.”
Tubridy: “Did you have sympathy for the president?”
Murphy: “Yeah, in the sense of when people are, I’ve sympathy for anyone who’s screaming abuse at, I’m sure he’s well able for it, do you know what I mean, I think he’s in the car and he’s gone. But…”
Tubridy: “Do you think he’s a legitimate target?”
Murphy: “I think people have a right to protest any political figure. And I don’t think anybody has actually proposed, you know, banning, making it illegal to protest the President or anybody.”
Tubridy: “But do you think the President… and this got a lot of comment at the time. The President of this country stands a little bit removed from the political system, in the sense of his office and the neutrality of the office and the apolitical nature of it?”
Murphy: “That’s really a formalism, you know? It’s not the reality, I mean if you think of the presidential election, it’s a political election. It’s a political election of a certain type. People talk in a certain way but Michael D Higgins, he stood on a platform of criticising austerity, criticising the impacts of austerity, he has a record of fighting for people, of standing up for human rights so it is a political office and I think people do have the right to protest, they should protest in the correct way and in a peaceful…”
Tubridy: “So if President Higgins was opening a library tomorrow in Galway, you’d say to people, ‘go and protest at that against him’?”
Murphy: “No, no, I wouldn’t…”
Tubridy: “About the water..”
Murphy: “I wouldn’t say that and you can’t draw that inference from what I just said but I said, I wouldn’t right because it’s not much point in protesting against the President. He doesn’t have sufficient power. But if they decided to protest, I’d say, well they’ve a right to do it and I’d say they’ve a right to do it as long as they do it within a peaceful, disciplined way, etc, etc. So you can defend someone’s right to do something without meaning that you advocate it. So I defend the right of people to protest against any political figure.”
Tubridy: “Would you break a court order injunction?”
Murphy: “It would depend on what the court order injunction is. But yeah I would. I mean the injunction that we have at the moment is an injunction, to be clear, it’s an incredible infringement on people’s democratic rights and civil liberties. It says you cannot go within 20 metres of a water meter installation. If necessary I would break that as part of the protest.”
Tubridy: “Ok, so that takes us to yesterday [Thursday] and the people who were incarcerated for coming within the 20 metres of the people trying to put the water machines in. One of whom I believe was the gentleman [Derek Byrne] we heard on that heckle against the President. You support him?”
Murphy: “Well I’ve just criticised him for everything that he said there. I don’t think he should be jailed. Do you think he should be jailed? Do you think he should be in jail for a month?”
Tubridy: “Did you support him in court yesterday?”
Murphy: “Yeah. I don’t think he should be in jail for a month because he stood within 20 metres. So I disagree with what he did there [referring to Finglas incident]..if what he did there was a crime, well then, let there be but no, he should not be…and the other four – a woman and three other men, including a 60-year-old who’s currently out of the country. Should they be in jail because of standing against water meters? They don’t want the imposition of water meters. The only purpose of the water meters is to get the water charges. You have massive opposition in these areas, you’re not talking about protests like that, you’re talking about protests of hundreds of people, effectively protesting.”
Tubridy: “But if it’s 20 metres, to be, proximity, why don’t they protest 21 metres away and avoid having all this waste of, you know, Garda time, legal time, their own time and them not having to spend time doing, in prison, watching, you know…”
Murphy: “Because it’s a question of, what the State is saying and, in my opinion, the media is saying, is that you’ve the right to protest, you’ve the right to march, and a judge said this, you’ve the right to kind of march up and down with your banners and your placards.”
Murphy: “But you don’t have the right to effective protest and that’s why people need to be within the 20 metres – to stop water metre installation. Because what GMC Sierra is doing is imposing meters on people who don’t want them and we think people have the right to protest…”
Tubridy: “Do you have any sympathy for the men and women who are putting the meters in?”
Murphy: “I do. I don’t think they should be put in that situation – by their employer or by Irish Water which contracts their employer.”
Tubridy: “And, just looking at the things that you’re anti. And I’m curious to know what you’re pro because you’re anti water charges and anti property tax and you’re anti bin charges and you’re anti bailout and you’re anti college fees and you’re anti austerity. So where’s the pro in the Paul Murphy?”
Murphy: “I’m pro-Socialism. I’m pro taking power in this country out of the hands of the bankers, of the bondholders, of the Denis O’Briens and taking power into the hands of the majority. Right? Which means running society through public investment, through public ownership of our natural resources which are being given away to Shell and Statoil…”
Tubridy: “And if the law doesn’t suit you, break it.”
Murphy: “Well, you asked me what I’m for, so I’m explaining what a Socialist society would look like, it would mean a decent home for everybody, it would mean a decent education, it would mean decent healthcare, it would mean putting people’s needs before profit. That’s what I’m for and all those things that go with it.”
Tubridy: “You must have been so excited when the Greeks elected the government they elected and then you must have been so disappointed to watch the Nine O’Clock News to realise that, despite all their promises, they are having to play ball. I mean they went in saying they were going to tell them, give them the two fingers and now they’ve come out with their hand out.”
Murphy: “Well it’s an ongoing battle. I mean what’s being attempted, it’s incredible. And our government is completely part of it. It’s an incredible blackmail by the European establishment, the Troika, the ECB, etc, demanding that the election results in Greece are annulled. Right the people voted against austerity and saying, ‘you can’t have that, otherwise, we’re going to force you out of the Euro’, that’s what the ECB is saying. So the ECB..”
Tubridy: “The Greek government could sign up to a deal tonight Paul and…”
Murphy: “We don’t know what’s in the deal right. If they’ve signed up to implement any austerity, then that’s a mistake. If they’ve just bought time until Monday and then for later on, well then that’s part of the negotiations but the Syriza election is very, very important, regardless of any mistakes that Syriza may make, because it opens the idea that there is an alternative to austerity. There’s been this mantra for years and years and years, for decades. And now you have a left government elected and it does give people hope.”
Tubridy: “It just feels to me that they were a bit neutered tonight but we’ll talk about that at another time if we can. Quickly, before I say goodbye Paul, thinking about the arrests and the incarcerations in prison yesterday, would you say they’re a help or hindrance to your cause?”
Murphy: “That depends on what response takes place now. People have to respond and say this is just not ok.”
Tubridy: “So what do you propose?”
Murphy: “So tomorrow [Saturday] there’s a major protest, a national protest at 2 o’clock at the Central Bank in Dublin. It will march to Mountjoy Prison. People need to come out now. Anybody who defends the right to protest. I mean we’ve had two weeks of dawn raids in Tallaght, five people jailed, it’s a very, very serious attack that’s going on.”
Tubridy: “Can you guarantee that future marches will be peaceful and less belligerent than the ones we’ve seen of late?”
Murphy: “Well, if you think of all the major protests that have taken place in town, they’ve all been entirely peaceful, entirely disciplined, less trouble than you would have at a GAA match or anything else. So can isolated incidents take place, in small protests or whatever? Certainly it’s possible, I can’t guarantee that won’t happen forever. But I know the vast, vast, vast majority of people, who engage in protest, engage in the right sort of protest. But do engage in effective protest and, in order to engage in effective protest sometimes civil disobedience is necessary. The most important source would be non payment. What will sink Irish Water is the majority of people refusing to pay the water charges. And I think that will happen. And…”
Tubridy: “And what figure? I think the number I have in my head for those who have signed up for Irish Water is 64% – would that be right?”
Murphy: “That’s what they’re claiming.”
Tubridy: “Your notion of a majority…little bit…”
Murphy: “Not at all. Alright that was after…that was after the third deadline. If you remember it was all the propaganda and everything and they said, ‘oh no it’s actually just an administrative deadline, we’ll have a new deadline’. So it’s, they’ve already admitted that that’s a very bad figure for them. But the opinion polls. What matters – registration is important. But what matters really is payment. The opinion polls say 4 in 10 intend to pay, 3 in 10 intend not to pay and the others are in between. And we need to convince those others to join the boycott and as many of the 4 in 10 as well.”
Tubridy: “It’s going to be a fascinating few months ahead. I’ve no doubt about it. But thanks for coming in tonight. Paul Murphy, ladies and gentlemen.”