Attack On Denisocracy


ByLine Pic.... Tom Molloy. Pic Frank Mc Grath


Yesterday’s Sunday Independent, above; Group Business Editor at INM, Thomas Molloy, top; and Mark Malone, middle

Mark Malone, of Sound Migration, joined the panel of RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane via telephone yesterday morning.

Among the panellists were Irish Times columnist and former Fianna Fáil adviser, Noel Whelan, and Thomas Molloy, Group Business Editor at Independent News and Media.

Mr Malone was invited to talk on the show because he attended Saturday’s protest in Dublin.

As Ms Finucane interviewed Mr Malone, the discussion turned towards Independent News and Media, Denis O’Brien and how GMC Sierra – a subsidiary of Mr O’Brien’s company, Siteserv – won a contract to install water meters.

Marian Finucane: “Mark you were on the march yesterday.”

Mark Malone: “I was indeed, yeah.”

Finucane: “And you were coming from Stoneybatter?”

Malone: “Yes I was coming from Stoneybatter. But if I could just first address some of the comments there…”

Finucane: “Sure.”

Malone: “I think the level of debate there is pretty poor in that you get the sense that ‘these are the times of the poor politicians who go in to the job with a great heart and, unfortunately, some hard decisions are made and, you know, there’s not a lot of respect there’. You talk about the idea of playing the person, rather than the ball. I mean public policy plays the person all the time. If you’re [inaudible], if you’re at the back end of disability cuts, if you’re at the back end of being put back on JobBridge, if you’re experiencing that, that’s you being played.”

Finucane: “Can I go back, I’ll come to that with you. But can I go back first of all to yesterday. What was it like? What was the atmosphere? How many were there? What was the spirit of the thing?”

Malone: “It was a really good atmosphere, I mean, as you probably know, it wasn’t really organised by any political organisation. This is a community response, a grass-roots level response and organised, mostly, through local campaign groups. So, as I say, I was involved with the Phibsboro group, we have folks there from Stoneybatter, from Broadstone, we kind of marched down, there was a couple thousand of us and we met up with folks coming from Heuston, who came from, landed at Heuston, I guess from all over the country. So that’s it. The tone was very relaxed. You know, most of us didn’t really have an idea where we were going, we were kind of walking around town, celebrating the fact that we were out. We were cognisant that over half the people haven’t signed, so it’s very clear that we’re winning this. As much as it likes to get spun, when you see that Denis O’Brien’s media, funnily enough, comes out and condemns an attack on democracy while Denis’ company is putting in the water meters, I mean you don’t need to be very smart to see what’s going on there in some sense.”

Finucane: “Are you implying that the editorial is based on a business decision by Denis O’Brien that was presumably commissioned by Irish Water?”

Malone: “No, I would have a much more nuanced understanding of the role and nature of how the mainstream media plays in shaping public discourse.”

Finucane: “No, I just thought that was the implication.”

Malone: “No, I’ve made clear I do think the mainstream media frames a lot of public conversations [inaudible]..the framing is around this sort of, the fear that, you know, conversations around the usefulness or not, or the problems around peaceful protest.”

Finucane: “Mark, can I just say to you – the very first sentence I uttered after doing the headlines was, I read the Sunday Indo headline and I said to a contributor who’s been writing about this week [Noel Whelan], ‘do you think that’s a bit OTT?’ and his first answer was, ‘yes’. He did think it was a bit OTT. So like, steady on, when you talk about framing, you know, what do you mean by framing, given they were the first two sentences in the programme?”

Malone: “Well another way to phrase it is this is a media conglomerate that’s owned by, you know, mostly owned by an individual who has the contract for putting in water meters.”

Finucane: “So that is the implication?”

Malone: “That’s not an implication, that’s fact.”

Finucane: “And you think that dictates the headline in the Sunday Independent?”

Malone: “No, I said it dictates notions of framing of how things are talked about in the public domain by mainstream media corporations.

Finucane: “Would you go along with that, Noel?”

Noel Whelan: “No but I think that the framing is going on, on all sides here. I don’t know why those involved in the protests feel the need to disagree with those of us who condemn the excesses of some of the protests.”

Finucane [to Thomas Molloy]: “Can I come to you because you are the Independent group. If there’s a plot and a plan and a subtext here, please reveal all.”

Thomas Molloy: “Well if there’s a plot, I need to be told about it but there’s isn’t a plot. This is the kind of nonsense that these people bring out, it’s just absolute drivel.”

Malone: “These people? Sorry, can I come in there?”

Molloy: “No, you know, you know, it’s just wrong to say that there is…it’s wrong…it’s wrong…”

Finucane: “He’s [Malone] is not ‘these people’. His name is Mark Malone and we invited him on the programme.”

Molloy: “It’s wrong to say that there’s a person who has a controlling stake in INM, there isn’t. It’s just a fact that there isn’t anybody who has a controlling stake. Just at that very basic level…”

Finucane: “Ah now, come here to me…”

Molloy: “Let’s stick to the facts.”

Finucane: “He [Denis O’Brien] has a shareholding in Independent News and Media that’s what? 29%, I think it is? Yeah. So I mean, do you know what I mean?”

Molloy: “No it’s the same shareholding that Ryanair has in Aer Lingus.”

Finuance: “Yes.”

Molloy: “Nobody goes around saying Ryanair has a controlling stake in Aer Lingus. If they did, that would be a problem but clearly they don’t, we’ve seen that this week. You know, people can be big shareholders without being, without controlling a company.”

Malone: “Can I just say, like, we’re talking about media, I’m talking about media that’s pretty much first year courses in universities discussing how, you know, media shapes public conversation. And this is why I’m talking about the level of debate. Now you’ve got an editor in chief there trying to come back and refuting what is pretty much 101 sociological, like theory that’s accepted by most lecturers in media studies.”

Molloy: “No, I’m not talking about first year university course here, I’m talking about reality, I’m talking about the Irish media landscape, as we all live and work in it. And, you know, whether or not you agree with ‘Attack on democracy’ as being over the top, the reality is that there are protesters outside Paschal Donohoe’s house. He has a family, he has to put up with that. What happened to Joan Burton, again, whatever you think about it, was really quite extraordinary and we are, we are coarsening the debate in this country, we’ve got to the stage where politicians will not be able to mix with other people in the streets and will not be able to pick up on what’s already happening and that’s a great shame because one of the conceding graces of Irish democracy has been that our politicians live among us.”

Finucane: “Well let me go back to Mark, let me go back to you because you said that it [Saturday’s protest] was good humoured and you say that the whole point of the representation on the streets yesterday was of those who haven’t signed up, as opposed to those who have.”

Malone: “Absolutely and I mean we talk about, I mean I could send you links all day long about videos on YouTube around men in masks coming into my community to put in water meters, coming in to intimidate us on a daily basis.”

Finucane: “Men in masks?”

Maloney: “Men in masks. I mean this is obviously, you can go to the, they’ve covered it, RTÉ haven’t really covered it that much. You have private security firms, like Guardex, who are there gathering intelligence, coming up, you know, coming up to people like me, to other individuals, naming us by name, telling us they know where we live, as whilst we’re taking part in a sort community protest of civil disobedience. Obviously, you know, we’re trying to stop the water meters coming in but there’s a level of actual intimidation, that stuff is on YouTube for sure, as well.”

Finucane: “Yeah well, you see, the interesting thing, Mark, is for somebody  that gets information from people like you and from the media, as you call it, etc, etc, we hear both sides complaining about intimidation.”

Malone: “Absolutely, yeah, well I think there’s a differing level of conversation, I mean whatever about shouting names at politicians, I think that’s relatively fruitless, probably not that useful, that’s very different to private companies coming into my street and into my community and intimidating us, as part of a process of pushing through State policy. That’s, that has serious implications…

Molloy: “It’s not your street.”

Finucane: “Yes but it..”

Malone: “But to come back to yesterday’s march. Yesterday’s march was a celebration. Let’s not lose sight of the facts: we’re winning this, we’re winning this hands down. The State probably needs about 90% for this project to go through, it’s no way near that as the deadline approaches.”

Finucane: “Right.”

Malone: “So I’m very proud and inspired to be part of the movement, it’s the largest civil disobedience movement in generations.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Dumb Intelligence Gathering

49 thoughts on “Attack On Denisocracy

    1. smoothlikemurphys

      Just like the arrogance of calling it ‘My Street’ and acting as though you speak for every single person that lives on it. Come to think of it, that’s just like a lot of the water protestors actually.

      1. Xena

        Everyone refers to the street where they live as ‘my street’. You are clutching at straws at this point.

      2. Lorcan Nagle

        Have you been in Stoneybatter? The prevalence of “we’re not paying” signs in people’s windoes, the level of support at public meetings and the sheer determination to keep Irish Water out for months certianly suggests that the majority of people in the neighbourhood are in agreement.

        1. soundmigration

          Without getting into a convoluted conversation on dialectics, the commons, property rights and neoliberal common sense I say this. I used the term “my street” in direct relation to the term “my community.” The spaces and places where I live, I hang out with my neighbours, where I often socialise and almost always shop. I dont own them, but i am part of that community and that community, my community, my street is part of me.

          To suggest it arrogant to have a sense of belonging, bond and kinship and ya’know doing the stuff that reproduces a sense of community, thats pretty off the wall stuff. Even arrogant….

          The lads coming in masked up with cameras. O indeed Denis O Briens companies. Not part of my community, and were not welcomed on our streets. Pretty simples really

    1. Llareggub

      So go back to your simple bed with your comics and don’t be bothering with all this real world stuff.

  1. B

    the sad fact is that the indo are now hiring journalists and paying them 25k . How are you supposed to live on that.I don’t understand dinnys antipathy towards the unions. do they have unions in Haiti.

    1. mingdo

      If you were a journalist starting out and of any substance, you wouldn’t go and work for the Indo. 25k is a lot for below par columnists.

  2. Kolmo

    Willfully pitching citizens against each other to further the commercial ends of private companies and their interests – with almost sociopathic calculation. Breathtakingly anti-social, and anyone who objects is a ghetto rat/ISIS/mentally unstable…

  3. Neil

    “the reality is that there are protesters outside Paschal Donohoe’s house”… and there are GMC crews outside ordinary peoples houses. Horses for courses. Last year Greyhound strikers picketed outside the home of ‘scabs’. INM didn’t care about that. If a politician cannot deal with the reality of a little protest outside his house, or any implication that has on his family life, he has the option to get out of the game or not make such controversial decisions. He gets well paid for those decisions after all, much more than the average person. His expense account is no doubt higher than my salary.

    1. smoothlikemurphys

      “and there are GMC crews outside ordinary peoples houses”

      Except GMC aren’t shouting threats, are they?

      1. Kirk


        Actually the are, I think it’s ridiculous to paint GMC as saints and having never abused the public they come in contact with.

        Plenty of video on youtube & facebook to support this.

        Both sides are at it, I agree.

        This saga will rumble on throughout 2015

        1. smoothlikemurphys

          “I think it’s ridiculous to paint GMC as saints and having never abused the public they come in contact with.”

          Agreed – I’m not saying GMC are saints, but there’s a big difference between a GMC worker snapping and telling a protestor where to go when the protestor is attempting to obstruct the worker doing their job, and a people descending onto someone’s family home like a pitchfork mob.

          Imagine if that happened to you and you had your young children there?

  4. Truth in the News

    The Sunday Independent might do a banner headline of the
    tribunal report where Denis O Brien was mentioned and how
    come Sam Smyth and Gemma O’Doherty are no longer
    correspondents with INM.
    In effect the Independent has lost all credbility and its goes back
    to their famous “Pay Back” intervention in 1997 which in effect
    got Fianna Fail elected and the start of the spiral to where we
    now ended up …Bankrupt…..and eventually to Sir Anthony going
    wallop too and if they floundering on, they same way also..

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